Socialist Worker

Get behind the junior doctors' dispute and defend the NHS

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2478

Junior doctors marching in London last month

Junior doctors marching in London last month (Pic: Julie Sherry)


The British Medical Association (BMA) was to set to ballot its 56,000 junior doctor members for industrial action from Thursday of this week. 

Junior doctors are fighting new contracts that would rip up their terms and conditions and put patient safety at risk. 

Yannis Gourtsoyannis sits on the BMA’s junior doctors’ committee. 

He told Socialist Worker, “Junior doctors’ anger is driven by Jeremy Hunt’s smears that we’ve got a nine to five culture.

“We work weekends and unsocial hours already. But the new contracts would remove safeguards that stop us working a dangerous amount.”

He added, “Many doctors who weren’t political are starting to look at Hunt’s links to private health care. 

“They can see he wants to make the NHS an unviable service that’s easier to sell off.”

Momentum behind the junior doctors’ revolt is growing.  

Up to 4,000 junior doctors and their supporters marched through Leeds on Wednesday of last week. Thousands were set to march through Birmingham on Saturday of next week.

The BMA said the industrial action would initially take the form of days of action with Christmas Day cover. 

If that failed, it could include all junior doctors withdrawing their labour. 

Solidarity is now key. Chrissie Gardner, Bristol Unite union health rep, said, “We’ve invited a junior doctor to our next branch meeting.

“The junior doctors are a test case. If the Tories get away with this, they’ll just do over the rest of us.”

Union activists need to organise union and workplace meetings with junior doctors.

It will boost their confidence to strike and put pressure on health unions to join the fight for the NHS. 


If you enjoy Socialist Worker, please consider giving to our annual appeal to make sure we can maintain and develop our online and print versions of Socialist Worker. Go here for details and to donate.

Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.