The British Medical Association (BMA) has been accused by Jeremy Hunt of ‘distorting’ his words to mislead junior doctors.
The health secretary made the bold claim when he appeared on The Andrew Marr Show this morning, which saw Marr rip into his plans. Although despite this, Hunt said that history will show he did the right thing for the National Health Service despite his plans for a ‘seven day NHS’ being so incredibly unpopular among junior doctors that 98% of them voted to take strike action on February 10.
Marr presented hunt with a number of reports from junior doctors which were highly critical of him and his plans, causing him to visibly squirm in his seat. However he countered saying that anger among medical staff has been caused, not by his plans to change junior doctor’s working hours, but by the media and the ‘irresponsible’ BMA.
My language has been extremely careful because I’ve always wanted to make sure that people understand how hard junior doctors are working.
What I can’t control, as you know very well, we have a free press and often my words are distorted by the BMA which is one of the cleverest trade unions in the book.
They know in any argument between doctors and politicians the public are going to side with the doctors.
The proposed new contract would mean that evenings and weekends are treated as normal working days for junior doctors, which they say will stretch already overworked doctors.
Hunt insised that anger among junior doctors is caused by the BMA’s misinformation saying that one of the reasons for that anger, is because they were told by the BMA that their pay was going to be be cut, before promising that it wouldn’t be.
The health secretary said doctors will realise he is doing the right thing.
They were told they were going to be asked to work longer hours, they aren’t, we’re actually bringing down the hours they work. If you’re told by your union that the health secretary wants to do these awful things of course you feel devalued.
There are always battles along the way but I think what history will ask us is did the health secretary, did the government that’s committed in its manifesto to seven day services, did they do the right thing for patients to make care safer and better?
If they did, in the end I think doctors too will say there was a big argument about it, but it was the right thing for the NHS.
— News, Views, People. (@NVPeople) February 7, 2016
Mr Hunt was forced to accept that something does need to be done to improve the morale of junior doctors but he said the blame for that did not fall to him.