Junior doctors at a picket line in Sunderland. Photo: Mark Tyers Junior doctors at a picket line in Sunderland. Photo: Mark Tyers

As junior doctors strike across the country, Mark Tyers reports from Sunderland

Thousands of junior doctors once more took to their picketlines on Wednesday 10 February to oppose government plans which would put patient safety and doctor well-being at risk.

As reported by The Independent, a deal between the doctors union (the BMA) and the Government was all but signed until Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt stepped in and personally vetoed it in what is perhaps a new low for a Minister already renowned for being a villain.

As part of its bigger plan to run the NHS into the ground, the government is attempting to impose a new contract on all junior doctors working in England. Hunt is determined to force junior doctors into accepting a deal whereby Saturday’s are paid the same as weekdays so he can claim that he cut the costs of staffing the NHS at weekends.

The BMA has identified that the new contract would result in the NHS suffering a shortage of doctors due to the proposed pay cut and removal of maximum hours safeguards resulting in many junior doctors leaving the NHS due to poor pay, stress and burn-out.

‘Not fair / Not Safe / Save our NHS!’

Outside Sunderland Royal Hospital an enthusiastic picketline was once again set-up next to the main entrance with the junior doctors in high spirits and good voice, cheering at the large number of car-horns being sounded in support of them.

Many colourful, home-made placards were present including one which referenced the Government’s dodgy deal with Google.

After the picketline, som of the junior doctors present were planning on participating in the BMA’s “Meet a doctor” public engagement event being held in the city centre of Newcastle that afternoon.

The picketlines and public engagement exercises are typical of the energetic, creative and seriously-organised spirit which has characterised the BMA’s junior doctors’ campaign thus far and indeed should serve as something of a model for all other public sector industrial disputes.

The rallies, marches and now strike have all been designed to have as big an impact as possible through maximising public support (66% of the public support the strike according to a recent survey) and clearly and consistently identifying the junior doctors campaign as part of the broader movement to save the NHS from the Tories terminal progamme of cuts and privatisation

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