Socialist Worker

On the march in east London to support junior doctors

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2494

Junior doctors marched with their supporters

Junior doctors marched with their supporters (Pic: Socialist Worker)


Over 1,500 junior doctors and their supporters marched from east London into the City of London at the end of their 48-hour walkout today, Thursday.

Their march showed the growing support and solidarity for their battle against Tory health secretary Jeremy Hunt's imposition of a dangerous new contract.

Nicki, a BMA rep at Whipps Cross Hospital, told the rally at St Paul's Cathedral, "We have marched through the heart of the City to show them our NHS is here to stay.

"We thought two weeks ago let's organise a march, and this is amazing."

Public support and solidarity from other trade unionists throughout the last two days has boosted junior doctors' confidence.

Linda, a junior doctor at Homerton, told Socialist Worker, "We're really starting to get our message out to people. Many are saying they'll join us.

"The fact that we've had support has really kept us up."

Another junior doctor added, "We feel quite fragmented because of the shift patterns that we work. But this has felt like a real coming together of junior doctors."

Trade unionists from the East London NUT and Tower Hamlets Unison union branches marched with their banners.

Junior doctors from across Barts Health NHS Trust gathered outside the Royal London Hospital then took the road and marched to St Paul's Cathedral.

Chants of "Save Our NHS" and "Hunt out" echoed through the streets. Loud boos went up as the march passed a Bupa healthcare privateer's office.

Janet Maiden, a Unison nurse, said, "Jeremy Hunt thought he could take on the nice and calm junior doctors, but you have been our inspiration. When people see what you're doing they feel lifted."

Lessons

Matt Wrack, FBU firefighters' union leader, said, "You have learned lessons of solidarity and standing up for yourselves during the last few weeks.

"If we are to defend ourselves, we all need to learn those lessons."

Other speakers included Bfawu union president Ian Hodson and Danielle Tiplady from the medical students' Bursary or Bust campaign.

Activists have started to turn this support into solidarity, and some union leaders have given practical support.

Tower Hamlets Unison branch secretary John McLoughlin urged junior doctors to get themselves invited to other union meetings to gather more support.

But the TUC and union leaders need to do much more to build solidarity and call a national demonstration.

The march in east London and the rally at UCH hospital yesterday show what can be achieved.

Activists can learn the lessons from this strike and build bigger solidarity for the next 48-hour walkout on 6 April.

BMA member Jackie Applebee explained, "We've got really good links between the junior doctors and trade unionists in the area, which has given people real confidence.

"The call for the demo also came from the BMA and our reps have been key to organising this."

This issue is not going away. As Kitty Mohan from the South Thames junior doctors' committee told the rally, "We will take industrial action again and again until Hunt removes this imposition."

Junior doctors are determined to fight. The trade union movement must make sure that they win.


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