Socialist Worker

Junior doctors to strike for five days from 12 September. Now build solidarity

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2519

Junior doctors are striking to defend the NHS

Junior doctors are striking to defend the NHS (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Junior doctors will hold a "full withdrawal of labour" - a strike without emergency cover - for five days, between the hours of 8am and 5pm from Monday 12 September to Friday 16 September inclusive, followed by further dates to be confirmed.

The British Medical Association (BMA) made the announcement today, Wednesday, and added that the only way the strikes could be avoided is if the government "cancels the imposition of its controversial new contract and returns to meaningful negotiations".

The junior doctors are fighting for all of us, and they are right to escalate their strikes. 

Aislinn Macklin-Doherty, a junior doctor in London, told Socialist Worker, "We're striking for the safety of our patients.

“Patients deserve to be treated in a publicly funded and accountable NHS - but the Tory party is intent on destroying that."

The Tories and right wing press have begun pumping out propaganda about "greedy doctors" putting patients' lives at risk. But it is the Tories' assault on the NHS that's putting patients' lives at risk.

If NHS bosses push through their "sustainability and transformation plans" hospital departments across England will be shut.

Hunt claims the new contract is necessary to bring in "seven day working" in the NHS. But the NHS already provides emergency care 24/7 and junior doctors work long hours, including nights and weekends.

His plan would stretch resources already inadequate for five days across seven. As Aislinn said, “We have rightly upheld that the funding and resources for the Tories' '7 day NHS' is non-existent.

“They want to cripple our NHS for their own gain.

“Their plan is to enforce a second rate NHS so that a private insurance system can then be sold as the only way.”

The Tories wants to smash health workers' pay and terms and conditions to soften the NHS up for privatisation.The new contract makes Saturdays and Sundays ordinary working days and reduces night shift pay from 50 percent to 37 percent.

Rejected 

It replaces financial penalties on hospital bosses who overwork junior doctors with a weaker “guardian role”.

Junior doctors rejected these proposals by 58 percent on a 69 percent turnout.

A joint march by junior doctors and teachers in London in April

A joint march by junior doctors and teachers in London in April (Pic: @KeepNHSpublic)


The Tories have boasted that the contract reduces the cost of weekend working by one third.

If Hunt is successful in imposing the junior doctors’ contract, he will come after other health workers.As Aislinn explained, “Junior doctors are the single biggest roadblock to the Tory party’s plans.”

But a win for junior doctors can strike a serious blow against austerity.

These strikes can become a focal point of anger at the Tories’ attacks on the NHS and austerity—and for resistance against it.

There is the potential to build coordinated fightback.

The NUT teachers could also strike this autumn in defence of education—they should coordinate with the BMA.

The TUC and union leaders should throw their weight behind the junior doctors and help build practical solidarity.

Every trade unionist and campaigner should immediately start building solidarity in their workplaces, colleges and campaigns for the junior doctors.


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