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Junior doctors from James Paget go out on strike

PUBLISHED: 12:32 27 April 2016 | UPDATED: 12:34 27 April 2016

Junior doctors at the James Paget strike on Tuesday, April 26. Photo: George Ryan

Junior doctors at the James Paget strike on Tuesday, April 26. Photo: George Ryan

George Ryan

Junior doctors are taking part in a second day of strike action.

Around 15 doctors stood on a picket outside the James Paget hospital in Lowestoft Road from 8am-12.30pm yesterday and today.

The doctors from the Paget joined colleagues across the country in protest against changes to their contracts which are being imposed by the Conservative health secretary Jeremy Hunt.

Guaranteed pay increases linked to time in the job are also to be scrapped and replaced with a system linked to progression through set training stages.

Members of the British Medical Association (BMA) union are taking part in a full withdrawal of labour between the hours of 8am and 5pm on both days.

They had planned to walk out for a full 48 hours, but instead limited it to 18 hours.

It is the first time that doctors have withdrawn emergency care, although extra consultants have been brought in and nursing staff are not on strike.

Trevor Killeen, the BMA representative at the Paget, said: “Emergency care is still being provided by consultants who have studied for 15 years or more. The government are misleading the people by saying it is unsafe – it is categorically untrue.

“I think most people appreciate that this is not about pay or working Saturdays. It is about the future of the NHS and keeping patients safe.

“The reason the new contracts are unsafe is because the government is trying to spread current staffing levels across seven days. There are already staffing gaps and it is the patients who are going to suffer.”

Why are the junior doctors on strike?

In a BMA ballot of junior doctors in November, 98pc of those who voted on a high turnout supported the BMA’s decision to move ahead with industrial action.

Since then junior doctors have walked out four times.

The government says it wants a “seven-day NHS” and the new contracts will increase staffing levels at weekends. The new contracts will:

• Increase basic pay by 13.5pc on average.

• Other elements of the pay package are to be curbed, including what constitutes unsociable hours.

• Day hours on a Saturday will be paid at a normal rate, while extra premiums that are being offered for night and the rest of the weekend are lower than what is currently paid.

• Guaranteed pay increases linked to time in the job are also to be scrapped and replaced with a system linked to progression through set training stages.

Last week, Jeremy Hunt, wrote in a letter to Mark Potter, the BMA’s council chair the strike “seriously risks the safety of many patients who depend on the NHS.”

Dr Johann Malawana, BMA junior doctor committee chair, said: “No junior doctor wants to take this action but the government has left us with no choice. In refusing to lift imposition and listen to junior doctors’ outstanding concerns, the government will bear direct responsibility for the first full walkout of doctors in this country.

“The government is refusing to get back around the table and is ploughing ahead with plans to impose a contract junior doctors have no confidence in and have roundly rejected.”

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