Junior doctors: BMA announces three further five-day strikes over new contract
Forget what Jeremy Hunt, Theresa May, Sky News, the Mail, Independent, Guardian, or any of the other media outlets and vested interests may tell you, the fundamental issue surrounding the proposed 5 day Junior Doctors strikes between now and Christmas is very clear. A live television interview on Sky News yesterday (1st September) with a Junior Doctor's representative, and which you will not see repeated for obvious reasons, clearly explained the situation to everyone watching the programme. In the NHS today, there is already a 24 hour 7 day week emergency cover, and that has been in place since 1948. There is also a full NHS service for the other 5 days every week, which has also been in place since 1948.
The government, Jeremy Hunt, is seeking to extend all the 5 day NHS services including Haematology, Radiology, ENT, Cardiology, Neurology, Urology, in fact every single discipline currently provided between Monday and Friday, for the additional two days. Naturally, all the ancillary services provided within these amenities would similarly need to be extended over the full week. At first glance, the provision of a complete 7day NHS may seem attractive, however under present circumstances, the proposal has a pivotal flaw.
To provide the full 5 day range of services, the NHS today, is already significantly understaffed. Understaffed in Doctors, nurses, ancillary and support staff and every other area, essential to provide the necessary care and treatment for patients. The government continually banging on about the extra funding being pumped into the NHS does not bear close scrutiny as standards continue to decline. Against this background, we learn this week that NHS bosses throughout England are drawing up plans for hospital closures, cutbacks and radical changes to the way healthcare is delivered. The "proposals", include ward as well as hospital closures, closure of acute units, and scaling down of general care provision.
Having already established that we do not have sufficient facilities to adequately staff a full 5 day health service (without substantial amounts of overtime working and temporary agency staff with the associated cost premiums), the government, Jeremy Hunt, is obsessively determined to forge ahead with the absurd notion of stretching the already limited resources from 5 days to 7 days !
However, Hunt has no provision in this preposterous plan to provide even 1 extra doctor or nurse or ancillary worker to meet the additional demands. His only response is to bleat on about the extra money that Doctors will receive for working "unsociable hours". A pathetic response from the Secretary of State who over the past years has become a central part of the problems in the NHS rather than a solution to them.
How to provide and fund the additional disciplines over Saturday and Sunday also remains outside Hunt's comprehension. The government seems to have latched onto the catchy phrase of providing a "seven day health service" in the belief that it will be popular, but as usual have failed to grasp the full implications of the associated costs both financial and social. The government has also again miscalculated public opinion and the level of support in the country behind the Junior Doctors in this struggle. The old and discredited tactic of divide and rule, seeking to peel away support for both the NHS and the people who work in it, doctors, nurses, ancillary and support staff, will not win this argument, nor will it save Jeremy Hunt from eventual dismissal.
No matter how much the government and Sky News, the Mail, Independent, Guardian, or any of the other media outlets may seek to undermine and demonise the Junior Doctors and their motives for taking these actions, the fact remains that the public will not be deceived by the deceitful propaganda of government and media and their shabby treatment of our NHS.