Why Are Doctors Striking Again?

The BMA are planning a further series of walkouts, this time stretching to five consecutive walkouts each month (8am-5pm). But why are doctors still unhappy? NHSpace looks at some if the reasons.

1 – The contract still isn’t fair

There are some serious problems with the contract that Hunt is imposing, including poor treatment of pregnant women and parents who work part-time. The latest version of the contract pretends to fix these, but the fix is time-limited so that future doctors will suffer. Hunt is treating the contract like a broadband contract, offering a good deal initially but a bad one in the long run. Doctors care about their future colleagues and aren’t about to sell them out.

2 – The government is slashing the NHS

Groups such as the NHA have been aware of the STP hospital closure plans for several months. Now that these ‘secret plans’ are finally being reported in the media, you can be certain that every doctor is aware of the latest hatchet job being performed on the NHS. The idea that Hunt could achieve a ‘truly 7 day NHS’ with no additional funds was nonsensical; expecting it to happen in the midst of massive service cuts is utterly ridiculous.

3 – Whistleblowers are still being punished

The Chris Day case highlighted the fact that doctors in training posts has no whistleblowing protection and could lose their careers just for speaking up. The BMA has made some headway by asking Health Education England to acknowledge their duty as a de facto employer, but you can expect doctors to push for a cast iron commitment to whistleblower protection.

4 – The government are privatising the NHS 

The STP hospital closure plans will create huge gaps in England’s healthcare system; gaps which the private health companies will be happy to fill, for a fee. Healthcare is already being rationed (ask anyone applying for routine surgery that requires ‘funding approval’), but the STPs will take us to the point where co-payments and top-up health insurance become the norm. This isn’t what today’s doctors signed up for.

Read more about privatisation: 5 Forms Of NHS Privatisation You Should Know About.

5 – Jeremy Hunt was reinstated

By inviting Jeremy Hunt to continue as Health Secretary, Theresa May has shown a lack of respect for medical professionals. But in all honesty, Hunt is just a figurehead. The gradual sell-off of the NHS and mistreatment of its workforce is a core Conservative policy, both due to the party’s ideology and their ties with corporate party donors, many of whom own shares in private healthcare. Doctors will express their anger at Hunt, but of course the problem goes much deeper.

8 thoughts on “Why Are Doctors Striking Again?”

  1. Nobody is suggesting that we should not have these protests, but they are not enough to deflect this government from its chosen course.
    With our current electoral system and the mess that Labour are in, we could be looking at a Conservative government for the foreseeable future unless we can find a way to force some fundamental changes.
    Such change can only come about through the ballot box and that is a vote that the government would never give us: it is something we would have to organise for ourselves.

    The doctors (and perhaps the teachers) are best placed to arrange such a thing: they have nationwide coverage and the support of the public.

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  2. A First Past The Post ballot performed twice each decade is only a small part of our participatory democracy, and the Tories were elected by 24% of eligible voters. The use of protests, petitions and industrial action are all legal methods of influencing the government, who otherwise will only cater to their own voters, donors, and lobbyists. The doctors strikes are part of the system of checks and balances that are meant to keep our society fair. To not have any of the above and allow the government carte blanche until the next election would allow them too much power.

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  3. The basic problem we have is that this government was elected on a manifesto commitment to deliver a seven day NHS. That gives them a democratic mandate to do whatever they see fit.
    In this country, the will of the people is sovereign: it trumps principles, good sense, brute force and reasoned debate.
    The only thing that beats a mandate is a better mandate: the doctors probably have nigh on the full support of the public, but “probably” is not good enough, we need to prove it through the ballot box.

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  4. jhb

    The strike may not be deemed a tremendous success but the doctors are the only group of professional workers who have felt able to stand up to this government. Quite what there is as an alternative action I do not know but I trust that this courageous group will continue to fight. We have seen teachers, social workers, nurses, probation officers, local government officers, all the core of a decent group in society, bludgeoned into silence. The Tories are clever; it is this group they need to silence in order to push through privatisation of all our services but most significantly health. Take a look at what Oliver Letwin, recently awarded a peerage, has to say on the subject.

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  5. There’s also a legal challenge being run by Justice For Health, who are challenging the contract’s imposition.

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  6. I am not disputing that the deal is unfair, nor suggesting that the doctors are wrong to reject it, only that we need another tactic other than striking.
    My best suggestion is for a public vote of no confidence in the administration, and the BMA are big enough to set one up, but I am nobody special and I could expect the combined intellect of the doctors to come up with a better idea…

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  7. The strike wasn’t completely ineffective – some concessions were made. But the BMA’s junior doctor members voted to reject the deal, because it is still unfair.

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  8. The real question is not of the reasons for the strike, but of why another strike when striking has proven ineffective?

    You are doctors, you should be smarter than this: it is time you moved on and sought out a new strategy. The nation is sick: consider it as a patient. You don’t need me to tell you that if you just raise the dose when the medicine doesn’t work, it can rapidly get toxic…

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