Yesterday junior doctors in the UK voted overwhelmingly in favour of taking strike action against a proposed new contract.
There was 76 per cent turnout for the vote, with 98 per cent voting in favour of full strike action. As a result junior doctors will only provide emergency care on December 1, before full walkouts on December 8 and 16 between 8am and 5pm.
The row has raged on between doctors and current Tory Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who planned to impose a new contract on junior doctors that would see their standard rate of pay extended across hours previously considered unsociable.
Junior doctors and the British Medical Association have argued that the contract is unsafe, and damaging to the quality of patient care as doctors could be greatly overworked.
Dr Tim Smith, who works in a Manchester hospital, has highlighted his concerns in an open letter to David Cameron and the Conservative government in The Mirror.
I voted for it, but now the result has been announced it feels a bit unreal. How did you let it come to this?
We honestly don’t have any choice, you know. We didn’t come to the table making unreasonable demands for pay rises and shorter hours.
Jeremy Hunt wrote a contract for us that will remove safeguards that protect us from working longer hours than we already do.
It will reduce pay for those who work in the most difficult jobs, working the hardest, most antisocial hours.
Tired doctors make mistakes – that’s what we all dread.
For some of the papers and for Jeremy Hunt, who seems horribly willing to demonise us and make it seem like we are workshy, an ‘avoidable death’ is a tragedy to hit the headlines or a political stick to beat the NHS with.
For us it is the nightmare that stops us sleeping.
Smith closed by saying:
When I say it is heartbreaking to work under this strain I mean it.
I see friends and colleagues in tears every day, but still putting on a brave face for our patients.
So you have to drop the new contract or we have to strike.
We are fighting for the heart, soul and very future of the NHS as a high quality, comprehensive and universal service.
Hopefully for the benefit of the National Health Service, and all British citizens, a resolution can be met soon.