The Health Secretary has announced that he will impose the new contract on NHS Junior Doctors without finding a compromise with the British Medical Association (BMA).
The move comes hours after the end of a second 24 hour strike by Junior doctors, who say the new contract is bad for patient care and does not fairly compensate them for working unsociable hours.
Jeremy Hunt said imposing the contract unilaterally would end the “uncertainty” in the health service, but junior doctors have said they will fight the government’s position, raising the possibility of further strikes, legal action, or mass resignations.
BMA GP leader Dr Johann Malawana said:
“The government’s shambolic handling of this process from start to finish has totally alienated a generation of junior doctors – the hospital doctors and GPs of the future, and there is a real risk that some will vote with their feet.
“Our message to the government is clear – junior doctors cannot and will not accept a contract that is bad for the future of patient care, the profession and the NHS as a whole, and we will consider all options open to us.”
The row with junior doctors continues to be an embarrassment for the government, with two thirds of the public supporting the junior doctors, according to a recent poll by Ipsos MORI, despite the inconvenience caused by the industrial action.
The government underestimated the public’s appreciation of the NHS, and after an expensive failure to reorganise the service for ideological reasons in the last parliament, the attempt to impose a new round of changes on junior doctors appears to be following a similar path.
A petition calling for a vote of no confidence in Jeremy Hunt for the way he handled the junior doctors row attracted more than 200,000 signatories six months ago, and the imposition of this new contract after failing to find a compromise will likely draw further public condemnation.
Descrier - news and culture magazine