To our fellow workers, trades unionists, campaigners and activists: We need you!

The current situation:

Junior Doctors across England will be commencing industrial action on Tuesday 12th January. We are opposing this government’s attempt to impose an unsafe new contract on the medical profession. It is our view that the proposed contract represents an existential danger to the NHS as an institution.

You may be aware that the BMA had initially suspended its planned industrial action at the start of December and returned to talks with the Department of Health. That decision was made in good faith. However, over the last few weeks, in the course of negotiations with Government we have encountered only intransigence. It is clear that the government perceives our contract issue as pivotal for its attempt to “reform” the NHS towards a neoliberal, commercialised system.

It is therefore evident to us that we have no choice but to transform our 98% ballot mandate into action.

The developments of the next few months will have consequences stretching far into the future. This government is wilfully putting at risk our patients’ safety, the tolerability of our working lives as NHS workers and the very viability of the NHS as a publicly-funded, publicly-provided service.

Why we need YOU

The coming period will be the ultimate test of the BMA’s resolve as a Union. However, we remain mindful of the fact that the BMA is not an abstract entity operating in isolation from wider political developments. There is no way that we can win this on our own. We need all concerned citizens, activists and trade unionists to stand alongside us in this fight.

Over the last few months we have been in dialogue with many trade unionists throughout the country and we have been enormously grateful for their support both at a local and national level. The public messages of support from our allied health worker colleagues, the firefighters, the teaching unions and the TUC and TUCG unions have galvanised junior doctors.

We are therefore well aware that all eyes are upon us and that the institutions which represent the wider working class stand with us in solidarity.

We are in no doubt that Osborne, Cameron and Hunt will use the proposed doctor’s contract as a tool for achieving the destruction of safe terms and conditions throughout the NHS and throughout the public sector. The Conservative Party is attempting to stretch the NHS into an ostensibly 7-day elective service whilst simultaneously launching the biggest assault on NHS resources in its history. The politics of austerity represents a clear and present danger to the nation’s health.

A victory for the Junior Doctors would signify the first real crack in the entire edifice of austerity in the UK.

Please stand with us. And when you need us, ask us. We will stand by you.

Invitation to attend our pickets

On behalf of the entire BMA we thank you all for your incredible support so far. Many of you will have seen the details with regards to the planned action and I will reiterate them below. We invite you to come out and display your visible support for us on the days of action.

  • The action will begin with an emergency care-only model, which would see junior doctors provide the same level of service that happens in their given specialty, hospital or GP practice on Christmas Day. It will then escalate to full walk-outs. The action as proposed is:Emergency care only — 24 hrs from 8am Tuesday 12 January to 8am Wednesday 13 January

    Emergency care only — 48 hrs from 8am Tuesday 26th January to 8am Thursday 28 January

    Full withdrawal of labour — from 8am to 5pm Wednesday 10th February

  • The aim is to picket all major hospitals in England on all three days of proposed action. Pickets will be in the vicinity of the main entrances and will start at 8am, continuing until at least 12.30pm. However, many picket sites will continue into the evening, especially at the larger hospitals.
  • Along with the pickets there will be parallel “Meet the Doctors” events at nearby transport stops or public spaces. We will direct you to these events from the picket.
  • Please turn up on the days of action, and give us your support. We will then inform you if other local events are planned on the day. If you are an allied health worker, trade unionist or campaigner please do consider bringing along the banner representing your organisation, your working uniform or similar. We would appreciate it however if banners in explicit endorsement of specific political parties are not displayed and that any selling of campaign literature such as newspapers is relatively discreet.
  • On the days of action, please do debate us, educate us and invite us to address your colleagues in your workplace or trade union branch.Finally

    I would also like to remind you of another important upcoming date. On Saturday 9th January student nurses, midwives and allied health workers will be marching in opposition to Government plans to scrap the NHS student bursary. The protest will assemble outside St Thomas’s hospital at midday and proceed to Downing St. The BMA will be marching alongside the nursing students and we hope to see you there!

    Just as the social democratic in this country consensus began with the inception of the NHS in 1948 so too will the NHS be the site of Britain’s last stand against the all-consuming forces of austerity.

    Solidarity is the antidote to the cynicism of those in power. Now is the time to stand together in a common defence of the NHS. If not now, when?

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2 Comments

  1. Jane Young says:

    As a disabled person I’m fully in support of the junior doctors in their demands and in their strike. Even though it will compromise the care of others like me, I know many of us feel that this is a price worth paying, especially given the wider context of these strikes explained in the article above.

    However, I’d really like to see doctors supporting us too! I realise you’re not GPs, but you all belong to the BMA, and I would hope you talk to each other.

    We have a really big problem which we need GPs to do their best to help us with. You may or may not know that both the principal benefits for disabled people and people with long term health conditions now depend on an assessment by a “healthcare professional” employed by a very large corporation (Maximus for Employment and Support Allowance (which replaces Incapacity Benefit) and Capita or Atos for Personal Independence Payment (replacing Disability Living Allowance)) and given a few weeks training in “disability analysis” (whatever that is!). The report from that HCP is usually rubber-stamped by the DWP decision maker and your fate is sealed. Failing to get either of these benefits can be life-changing; in the case of ESA, which is an income-replacement benefit, being assessed as “fit for work” when you – and your GP and consultant etc – know you’re not, can lead to desperate poverty.

    Unsurprisingly, since much of the decision-making process depends on medical evidence, claimants often ask their GP for a supporting letter. We don’t like to ask, because we understand that GPs are under huge pressure. However, since the need is for medical evidence, where else should we turn? Unfortunately, based on a misunderstanding of the procedures, some local LMCs are advising GPs to refuse to write such letters, claiming that DWP or the tribunal service will ask if they need information. Nothing could be further from the truth. The DWP won’t ask because it chooses to believe that the HCPs employed by huge corporations are able to provide high quality, accurate reports, and the tribunal service won’t ask because it is a basic part of legal procedure that it is for the parties themselves to obtain and offer evidence to support their case in any legal action.

    I have no idea whether any GPs will read this, but if they don’t, it would be extremely helpful if this could go back to the BMA GP Committee. Most of us who have any kind of long term condition will be fully behind the junior doctors, and some of us may even join picket lines to show our support. But that support needs to go both ways, and since 2010/11 the austerity you allude to in your article has been seriously compromising the wellbeing of people who have no choice but to rely on benefits, and the situation shows no sign of improving.

    I hope my plea won’t fall on deaf ears; we support you, but we’d be so, so grateful if you’d also support us!

    Thanks for reading 🙂

    1. Jane Young,

      You are so very, very right.
      It does go two ways and I fully support all of what you have stated here.

      Yes I am open to supporting but have we actually ever had that from them!!

      I am an elderly unpaid carer for three members of my family.

      I feel I have been fighting the medical profession since the birth
      of my first son 52 years ago when he first had feeding problems
      that was more due to lack of strength unable to feed, unable to suck for
      any length of time and lacked
      coordination and had unrecognized hiatus hernia causing pain and
      projectile vomiting.
      I spent many , many hours feeding life into my son in many ways not just with food and had to endure later in his life GP’s lack of medical help
      and tolerate their rudeness and cruel disrespect both for my son’s
      behavior and for my standing up for his rights to access decent health care.
      This continues more so today, with his welfare benefits under scrutiny
      and leaves me wondering where this will all be left once I am off the face of this earth as depending on general practitioners has proven to me to be a dead loss unless your face fits into the plan of things!!

      I would certainly like to feel I could contribute if they only but let you in.

      So I for one very much appreciate your standing up, speaking out
      and hopefully play a part in changing the perception of the medical
      profession at the same time as giving your support to both these
      two communities.
      However, if you get nowhere other then the chance to have your say
      which supported others in similar circumstances, this I am sure is
      welcomed by many of them, of us.

      I say thank you for your troubles and wish you all the best
      for the coming year and wish their were more of you.

      Kind regards,
      Maureen Erdwin

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