Operations cancelled as junior doctors strike in England

Junior doctors in England begin 24 hour strike as health secretary threatens to impose new contract

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Demonstrators stand with placards at Salford Royal Hospital during a 24-hour strike over pay and conditions in Manchester, northwest England, on February 10, 2016

Nearly 3,000 non-urgent medical operations have been postponed in England as thousands of junior doctors began a 24-hour strike for the second time in protest of a new contract that would regard Saturday as a regular pay day.

Talks between the Department of Health and the British Medical Association doctors' trade union have failed to reach an agreement over weekend pay rate changes which were proposed by the British Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

William Turner, a doctor striking against the cuts said about the meeting that all the junior doctors were disappointed that the talks reached impasse and led to another walkout.

Doctor Johann Malawana, who is the British Medical Association (BMA) junior doctors leader accused the government of sabotaging the deal due to their own interests.

“We presented [a] fully costed and working solution that was rejected due to pride and politics,” he tweeted.

 National Health Service advised patients who have serious or life threatening condition to call the emergency line, 999.

A 48-hour strike planned for 26 January was cancelled after the first 24-hour strike staged on January 12.

Prime Minister David Cameron's centre-right government says the reforms are needed to help create "seven days a week" NHS where the quality of care is as high on the weekends as on weekdays.

However, doctors say the patients safety is going to be harmed if government follows through with the planned contract changes.

"We are looking to minimise the disruption to patients. We anticipate that about 2,800 operations will be cancelled," said doctor Anne Rainsberry, national incident director for NHS England. 

"To put that into context though on a average day the NHS does 31,000 operations so the cast majority will go ahead." 

There are more than 50,000 junior doctors in England, making up a third of the medical workforce.

They are qualified medical practitioners who work while studying for qualifications for more senior roles.

Outside Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, Britain's biggest children's hospital, eight medics handed out blue balloons and waved placards reading "We are one profession, We stand together."

Taxis and vans beeped their support as they drove past. Some busses and cars have been seen honking in support of the strike while passing through the area.

One of the doctors said they received great support from the public .

“We got more coffees and teas and cakes than we can deal with at the moment,” he said.

One medic said she had seriously considered leaving the profession in recent months.

TRTWorld and agencies