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Why we want to strike

Dr Bea Bakshi

The Government’s mandate to create a seven-day NHS with the resources of a five-day routine working services is just bizarre to us, seeing as this does not exist anywhere else in the world.

My biggest concern is the fact that we are going to be seeing dangerously long rotas under the new contract. We are going to see tired doctors and we are going to see doctors making more mistakes. We are human, we do make mistakes. If we increase our working hours up to 15 hours a day, our working week to 90 hours, and we remove those vital safeguards that are contractually built in, when we know that hospital trusts across England are already understaffed, we know that employers could increase working hours without any money or safeguards. This is actually just gambling. It is gambling to see if seven-day services are going to work. But the people on the receiving end of this are patients, whose safety is going to be compromised by this. That is the fear here, that actually, we will make mistakes and patients are going to come to harm.

We don’t understand how we are going to achieve a £30bn efficiency saving, whilst being worked to the bone. All NHS hospitals and trusts are already struggling and all of us junior doctors right now probably work well beyond our rota hours. Trusts recognise that, junior doctors recognise that. We are there for the safety of our patients and if you are going to increase the number of hours that we work above and beyond that and you remove all contractual safeguards, that system is just going to be abuse, and patients will suffer. Doctors are not going to be able to work in those circumstances and patients are going to suffer, and that is the fear here. By no means is this about pay. No one is asking for a pay rise, just not a pay cut. I don’t think 98% of junior doctors would vote in a ballot just to protect pay. This is genuinely about safety.

Dr Bea Bakshi is a GP trainee currently training at Northwick Park Hospital and a BMA junior doctor representative for northwest London. 

Dr Renée Hoenderkamp

The GP trainees at our practice are obviously not going to work, and we are going to spend the day in the waiting room talking to patients and explaining to them why we are striking. It is a picket of sorts but we are not going to be standing outside with banners. We are going to have leaflets and badges and we are going to print off the BMA leaflets that explain all of the different points of what is going on and we are going to talk to people about it.

We will explain that although health secretary Jeremy Hunt has agreed to go to ACAS, he has refused to remove the threat of imposition of this contract, and that is why we are still on strike. 

We are going to explain the different parts of the proposed contract, that we would work longer hours, which will affect patient safety. That we will get less pay, which is demoralising for an already demoralised group of people. We are hoping patients will be supportive, and so far I haven’t had any patient who hasn’t been supportive.

Dr Renée Hoenderkamp is a GP ST3 trainee at the Abbey Medical Centre in northwest London.