It’s 8.00am on Tuesday 12th January 2016. Junior doctors begin to strike across England, the first for 40 years. The dispute is over the government’s plans to change junior doctors’ contracts, which would affect their pay and working hours.
Detailed information on this is available on the BMA (British Medical Association) website.
The Blind Spot travelled to Charing Cross Hospital to show support to the doctors as well as grab some interviews and footage for a video and our podcast. Having been told in advance that doctors can be reluctant to talk, we didn’t expect a great deal of engagement. What we found, however, were doctors who are upbeat, passionate and committed to their cause. The message was clear, this is not only about them, this affects everyone using the NHS.
Outside of Charing Cross Hospital there was plenty of support for the doctors with a chorus of cars, vans, trucks and even public service vehicles tooting in support as they drove by. From speaking with doctors and medical students at the entrances of Hammersmith Underground Station, who were giving out leaflets and information on the strike, the response from the passing public had been largely positive. There had been a few negative comments and a smattering verbal abuse, though this was the vast minority, so they said.
One of the facts that doesn’t get enough attention is that junior doctors are fully-qualified professionals working in the NHS. They can be in training for up to 15 years, often in their late 20s and 30s, meaning that the term junior is rather misleading. To the general public they are doctors. And The Blind Spot stands with these doctors in support of their strike. Their action goes far beyond better pay and working hours for individuals. The planned removal of working hours’ safeguards will affect junior doctors’ wellbeing and patient safety. Furthermore, this contract is yet another step in the government’s dismantling of the NHS. That’s why it’s essential these junior doctors put their foot down, not only for themselves, but the NHS and the country as a whole.