Army medics are likely to be drafted as junior doctors to go on strike on Tuesday
Hospitals across the country are planning contingency plans to deliver services during the junior doctors’ strike on Tuesday.
Meanwhile. the British Medical Association (BMA) in a statement said in its ‘Guide to Safe Picketing’ states that the armed forces would help provide cover if the walkout goes ahead.
“It is likely that our armed forces colleagues will be asked to step in to provide support for clinical services on the days of action,” the Guide explains. “The law does not permit them to take part in industrial action, but their support for services during the industrial action is welcome.”
98% of the junior doctors voted to go on all-out strike for the first time on December 1 over the government’s decision to dilute their payments and adding more to work pressure as part of the 7-Day NHS promise.
Senior doctors like consultants will step into manage the rota to avert crisis at the hospital wards. Junior doctors have been up in arms over the proposed changes to their contracts. Under the new proposals, junior doctors’ normal working weeks would be altered, so they could work Saturdays and up to 10pm every night of the week except Sunday.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has been accused of “political game playing” by taking so long to agree to negotiations with junior doctors. The Department of Health announced on Tuesday it had agreed to talks with the British Medical Association, which represents those about to strike, at ACAS conciliation services.
BMA chairman Dr Mark Porter welcomed this but added: “Junior doctors and the public, who by now will be used to Jeremy Hunt’s political game playing, will not be surprised by the fact that he has waited until now to do the right thing.”
Hunt wrote to Dr Porter saying the “extreme” strike action “poses a serious threat” to patient safety.
Hunt wrote a negotiated solution “has been my objective from the outset”, adding he was disappointed the BMA had refused an alternative offer the government put forward.
“It is clear that any talks are better than strikes,” he added.
“Given we will shortly be commencing with ACAS our first negotiations in over a year, I would also urge you to think again about whether extreme strike action in the NHS’ busiest period – which will at best disrupt patient care and at worst cause serious harm to patients – is appropriate or necessary.
“I believe it’s time to work together to improve weekend care – as promised to the British people in our election manifesto – and avoid harming vulnerable patients by postponing your planned action and resolving our difference through talks not strikes.”
In response, Dr Porter said: “It is encouraging that Jeremy Hunt has made a significant shift in accepting the BMA’s offer of conciliatory talks through Acas, finally recognising the fact that trust has broken down between junior doctors and the government.”
He added: “We hope to start these talks as soon as possible in order to reach a collaborative agreement for the benefit of patients and the NHS. Importantly, Jeremy Hunt must finally remove his threat of imposition in order to defer Tuesday’s industrial action.”