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Junior doctors’ strike takes on the Tories

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Issue 2494
junior doctors
Doctors were out in force today (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Junior doctors in England have walked out against the imposition of a dangerous new contract today, Wednesday.

This is the first of three planned 48-hour walkouts by the British Medical Association (BMA).

Hannah was on the 40-strong Royal London picket line in east London. “The imposition has been a real blow and made me think about leaving medicine after seven years,” she said

“But this has made me feel more strongly that we need to fight this with industrial action.”

Yusuf agreed, “If anything people are more geared up for it.”

He added, “As Hunt’s stance has gotten more negative, we’ve had more support from the public, nurses and RMT rail union.”


Portsmouth (Pic: Jon Woods)


Bradford picket ignore the weather (Pic: Umit Yildiz)



Oldham (Pic: Adam Rose)

At Homerton Hospital in Hackney junior doctors picketed the main entrances. Passing ambulances, buses and cars tooted in support.

Hugh, a junior doctor, said, “It’s made people very angry and there’s a bit of digging in since the imposition.

“There’s still huge support from top to bottom among junior doctors.”

The doctors received messages of solidarity and workplace collections from NUT and Usdaw unions, as well as members of the Unison union at Homerton hospital.

Doctor Poppy Shelton from the Hospital said “The media is trying to play the strike down but here we are starting on an unprecedented series of three 48-hour strikes. Public support remains overwhelmingly with us. We’re going to win!”

The pattern was repeated round the country. Richard Buckwell reports from Nottingham, “Despite appalling weather plenty of support for the 30 – 40 junior doctors on the picket at Queen Mary’s.”

Steve Johnston reports from Leeds, “Over 70 pickets and supporters braved the torrential rain in Leeds this morning.

“The mood was determined as it was clear the fight of the junior doctors was the fight for all public sector workers.”

doctors strike leeds

Leeds junior doctor picket line (Pic: Marven Scott)

At St Mary’s, in Paddington, London, doctors supported the bursary or bust campaign by NHS students as it would affect the most disadvantaged students.

One said, “Nursing is a tough course. It’s not fair that you would have to pay when you’re spending half the time on your course working on the ward.”

In Kingston first year junior doctor Lucy, told Socialist Worker, “With our strikes we can get some kind of resolution.

“We should involve further trade unions with the strike and continue winning public support.

“Jeremy Hunt is just a puppet being held up by the Tory government. It’s the Tory government as a whole behind this. There are hospitals saying they’ll refuse the contract because it just won’t work.

Penny reports from Portsmouth, “Around 50 people joined the picket line at various times this morning. There were solidarity delegations and banners from the Trades Council Unison, NUT, UCU and Unite. The local BMA rep was very pleased with the union solidarity and encouraged the doctors to continue the fight.”

At King’s Hospital in South London Junior doctor Patrick said, “We’re facing a changed situation entirely with this imposition. All trade unionists need to reflect on that scary precedent. This will happen to health workers and others across the board next.

“But there is hope, and the power is with junior doctors and others to act together against these threats that will affect us all. I hope we all now join the dots and step up the struggle against these attacks.”

Dr Linpower said, “I’m here because I love the NHS and to fight for it. What’s happening to junior doctors is just the start – they’ll go after others’ contracts.

“They’ll stretch the NHS to the point of breaking then private companies will come in and buy up the weekend services.”

But a united fight can push back the Tories’ attack.


Nottingham (Pic: Richard Buckwell)

Hunt’s imposition throws down the gauntlet to all trade unions. If he gets away with this, he’ll come after other workers.


Lively picket in Manchester (Pic: Lewis Nielsen)

That’s why solidarity is crucial. At UCH in central London nurses and other trade unionists, including the CWU and RMT, are going to solidarity rally at 1pm.

The BMA has called a rally outside the BBC in central London at 5pm.

And tomorrow doctors in east London are planning a march at the end of their second strike.

Every activist needs to be build solidarity for the second day of the strike – and subsequent action.


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