Issue date
12 Jan 2016

Our Junior Doctors are Defending Patient’s Long-Term Interests

Not Safe Not Fair

SERTUC was proud to visit the BMA picket line outside St Thomas’ hospital this morning to offer solidarity greetings and support to BMA members taking strike action to defend safety standards in the NHS.

The truth about the dispute is that Junior Doctors have made it clear that they do not want to strike but that they feel the government has left them with no alternative.

The truth about the dispute is that the government wishes to tear up Junior Doctor’s existing contract and to impose a new contract upon Junior Doctors that threatens the quality of care that patients receive, not least by reducing staff numbers available each day and by further damaging NHS staff morale.

The truth about the dispute is that the government wishes to dilute the safety measures that prevent NHS employers from compelling Junior Doctors to work excessive hours.

The truth about the dispute is that the government wishes to move further towards a 7 day service, without investing the additional resources necessary. So more services on Saturday and Sunday, will mean fewer or worse services on Monday to Friday. We have not heard a single medical professional oppose 7 day services and Junior Doctors already work 7 days a week and nights too. But their professional opinion is that a successful 7 day service needs to be properly funded and not done ‘on the cheap’.

The truth is that rather than advocating modern flexible employment practices, the government is seeking to penalise doctors who wish to work part-time or take career breaks; the majority of whom will be women.

The truth about the dispute is that the government is spending a diminishing proportion of GDP on health and social care. The highly respected Kings Fund wrote in November 2015  “Looking ahead, the NHS and social care are now set for a decade-long funding squeeze  which will see the largest sustained falls in spending as a share of GDP on both services in modern times.”

And the truth is that as the proportion of national income spent on health is reduced, the number of people resident in Britain is increasing rapidly, due to increased life expectancy, increased birth rate and net migration – so the spending per head of population is being massively squeezed.

The BMA’s stark conclusion is that the government is threatening the future of the NHS.

SERTUC believes that “The Junior Doctor’s strike action is principled, courageous and moral. Doctors take an oath to protect patient’s health and that is exactly the motivation for today’s strike action.”

The British people want a NHS that is well funded, well run, free at the point of use and based on need, and one that is publicly provided and publicly delivered. Despite the incessant spin used by the government during this dispute, that it is really about pay, protecting out-dated practices and political sniping, the fact is that most people trust doctors a lot more than politicians. A BBC Newsnight poll found that 66 per cent of the British public support today’s strike action by Junior Doctors.

Please take the time to support the Junior Doctors and BMA near to where you live or work.

BMA campaign assets are at



Laurie Heselden                


Megan Dobney                  


Everyone's Fight4