Breakdown of Jeremy Hunt’s statement on #JuniorDoctorsStrike

“I’d like to thank the junior doctors who ignored the BMA national advice and did go back to work. And I think that shows the values of the vast majority of junior doctors”

Yes Jeremy. The 10,000 who turned up were scheduled to do so to cover emergencies or else were not members of the BMA and not part of the strike action. They didn’t ignore BMA advice. 98% of the 37,700 BMA members agreed with the action and advice on a 76% turnout. That means 74% of all eligible junior doctors supported strike action. A vastly greater mandate than the 24% of the eligible public who voted for the conservative party.

“In the end this is a completely unnecessary dispute”

If you feel it is unnecessary they why are you disputing? It is not a unilateral dispute. We are not disagreeing with ourselves here. If it is unnecessary you could simply concede to our demands?

“We have some disagreements with the BMA over pay”

Much as Boris Johnson did with the tube strikes the government are attempting to re-frame the argument to one that makes Junior doctors appear greedy. As though we are asking for more pay. At the very most we are asking to not have our pay cut. We are not striking to ask for more pay. A fairer wage to reflect our skills. Or even a wage that would allow us to consider buying a home in most London boroughs these days.
Repeatedly junior doctors make clear the dispute is not about pay. Repeatedly in their sound bites Hunt and Cameron refer to pay as though it is THE issue we are fighting over. If you repeat a lie often enough people can believe it is true.

“But we all want to promise every patient who uses the NHS the promise of the same high quality care every day of the week”

I think most doctors would agree this would be fantastic. To be clear we have a 7 day service in the NHS. Doctors work 7 days as do almost all healthcare professionals in the NHS. What Hunt wants however is not to provide a 7 day NHS by increasing staffing or funding. He simply wants to redress Saturday evenings as being normal working hours. When my bank is open at 9pm on Saturday evening I may class it as a normal working hour. Until then it is unsociable.

“And at the moment we have an NHS where if you have a stroke at the weekends, you’re 20% more likely to die. That can’t be acceptable”

This statistic appears shocking and this is exactly what it is meant to do. Hunt knows full well most of the public will not look into the source of this statistic. This comes from one journal. The authors themselves admit a large part of this difference is likely due to the fact that only the most severe stroke cases are admitted on the weekend. Undertaking a multi-million pound reorganisation of the NHS based on one piece of evidence could be extremely dangerous and foolhardy. Sadly for our government it would not be the first time.

“And the right thing to do is not to strike, but actually sit round the table and talk to the government about how we deliver a truly seven-day NHS.”

Amazing that Hunt thinks that the right thing to do is to sit around a table and talk. Considering he was the one wanting not to talk but to impose the contract upon us. Considering most doctors have fairly strong opinions on how to deliver a seven day NHS and would be happy to talk about it. Considering Hunt has not involved us or our ideas in how to go about that process. Considering the thing most doctors agree on is that the way to a 7 day NHS is NOT via this junior doctor contract. Well we will look forward to the invite to the steering meeting Mr Hunt. I don’t mind sitting between Richard Branson and Lynton Crosby.

Breakdown of Jeremy Hunt’s statement on #JuniorDoctorsStrike

On the side of the workers. Always.

It has been difficult as a doctor watching the media machine work at trying to turn the public against us in the battle against the government. It has been so easy to see the lies, smears and misrepresentation of the argument in hand. It is easy to see because we know the truth. I am extremely proud of the way the medical profession has united to fight against this. Though Junior Doctors are the current target Consultants, Medical students and in fact all healthcare professionals have stood together. That unity and the general public faith in their doctors integrity are, I feel, the two main reasons the government are losing this fight. Or at least on the ropes and lashing out.

I cast my mind back to the recent Tube strikes however and sadly many of us in the medical profession stood on the side of the government in that argument. Many repeated the media portrayal of what the argument was about. Many repeated the media portrayal of how much tube drivers are paid and how easy their job is. Many allowed the government and the media to put a division between us and the tube drivers. So can we now expect tube drivers to support us? Can we expect them and the general public to see through the lies about our pay, how easy our job is, the lavish lives we lead on our pay?

In the background of the media and public fury about the tube strikes the Conservatives started to change the law via the Trade Union Bill. This is designed to make it much harder for workers to strike if they are unhappy about their pay, safety, hours, treatment or conditions. This removes some of the small amounts of power employees had and puts more power back into the hands of the employers.

The right to strike is something that had to be fought for in previous centuries. The workers rights we have today were gained from years of struggles where people actually lost their lives in strikes and pickets. The history of how workers rights were improved is not well covered in the curriculum for various reasons. It should be logical though that employers do not simply choose to pay more, improve safety or cut workers hours out of their own pocket. They had to be forced to do so.

The gains workers made are gradually being eroded with changes such as the trade union bill. These are issues we as workers and employees have to stand united on. Whether we are doctors, tube drivers, teachers, nurses or whatever job we work in we should recognise we are on the same side. We should stand together in opposition to the erosion of these rights. So whether it is a tube strike, Sportsdirect workers wanting minimum wage or the Nurses fight for their bursaries we should be supportive.

On the side of the workers. Always.