Harrogate's junior doctors 'won't be bullied' over contract strike

Harrogate's junior doctor have stressed 'enough is enough' as they strike for a second day over proposed changes to their contracts.

Thursday, 10th March 2016, 11:38 am
Updated Thursday, 10th March 2016, 1:56 pm
Harrogate's Junior Doctors on strike

Junior Doctors at Harrogate District Hospital walked out at 8am on Wednesday for the third time in three months as part of a 48-hour strike.

This morning, the junior doctors were back out in force on their Wetherby Road picket line over contracts which, they argue, are unsafe for patients and doctors.

Junior doctor Deborah Goldfield has warned the government are instructing doctors to work longer hours, leading to tired staff and 'at-risk patients'.

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She said: "We will not be bullied by the Government into a contract which has not been properly negotiated. We already work seven days a week.

"We don't shun work and we already work Saturdays and Sundays. The point is they expect us to work for longer and for less pay.

"We are also patients and this is where we feel we are being let down, we are looking after people's lives. We want Jeremy Hunt and David Cameron to get back to the negotiating table because enough is enough."

Harrogate District Hospital said 56 junior doctors walked out on Wednesday with 41 striking today. Approximately 40 outpatient appoints have also been postponed on both days.

More than 5,000 operations and procedures across England have been cancelled with the Department of Health calling the strikes 'irresponsible and unjustified'.

Dr Goldfield said that no doctor should be striking but insisted they were doing it for the good of their patients and the future of the NHS.

Under the new contract, basic pay will be increased by 13.5 per cent on average but doctors have argued the offer is still a pay cut as other elements of their package are to be curbed

This includes what constitutes unsociable hours but junior doctors have stressed that their dispute centres more around safety than it does in pay.

The Government are committed to providing a 'truly seven-day NHS' after an NHS England report warned there were 11,000 excess deaths at the weekend.

However, Dr Goldfield argued Mr Hunt was misinterpreting the data in the report in order to reinforce doctors working longer and unsafe hours.

She said: "He is using the 11,000 deaths statistic at a weekend but the study was funded by NHS England but even the authors said junior doctors are not the problem.

"There is no 'weekend effect' and the study was even published by the Government. We still feel we need to stand up for our colleagues because nurses will be next and then it will be physios.

"We have had a lot of support and people can help by coming down the picket line and support us and we want people to keep discussing it with us."

Following the last set of strikes in February, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he had been left with no choice to act and decided to impose the new contracts on doctors.

When this news filtered through to Harrogate Hospital, Dr Goldfield revealed doctors of all levels were saddened with some even reduced to tears.

She warned the contract would leave doctors emigrating abroad or changing careers as they could not work in such 'impossible conditions.

"We feel the overall plan is to privatise the NHS but we don't think the public are fully aware, this is their ulterior motive," Dr Goldfield explained.

"This is not the contract we signed up for. If we lose the NHS we are stuffed, this is what makes us so worried."