Health secretary ‘demonising profession’ says junior doctor from Ilford

Junior octors Lizzie Hobbs, Elaine Yip and Katherine Elliott on strike outside Queen's Hospital in R

Junior octors Lizzie Hobbs, Elaine Yip and Katherine Elliott on strike outside Queen's Hospital in Romford. - Credit: Archant

A junior doctor from Ilford has accused Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt of “demonising” the profession, over the ongoing contract dispute between the government and the British Medical Association (BMA).

Vishnu Parameshwaran, 27, who grew up in the town and now works at Bart’s Health NHS Trust, said: “Jeremy Hunt’s decision to impose the contract has destroyed the very last ounce of morale we have.

“He has demonised us, insulted us, described us as ‘lacking in vocation’, misused research to falsely attribute 11,000 deaths to us and frankly made us feel completely undervalued.

“Working in the NHS is already difficult with resources so limited and demand so great and a lot of it survives on goodwill alone.”

Junior doctors, including those working for the Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (BHRUT), will be forced to accept a new contract without agreement or further negotiation, Jeremy Hunt announced last week.

BHRUT will be obliged to impose the contract on all junior doctors due to its non-foundation status.

Unlike standard NHS hospitals, foundation trusts can negotiate the contracts of doctors with their own hospital boards rather than with central government directly.

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The long dispute has seen doctors from King George Hospital, Barley Lane, Goodmayes, go on strike twice, in a dispute over the new terms.

In a statement to the House of Commons, the health secretary said the decision was made after the BMA proved “unwilling” to negotiate on whether Saturday nights should become a normal part of a junior doctor’s working week.

Currently, doctors receive a higher rate of pay when working outside of the hours 7am to 7pm, Monday to Friday.

The new contract will extend the “normal” working hours to 7am to 10pm, Monday to Saturday.

The extension of hours is a step towards the aim of patients having access to doctors seven days a week, the government has argued.

Vishnu said the BMA was now considering all options, including mass resignations.

He said: “It’s a very uncertain time to be a junior doctor right now. We hate having to strike and take industrial action because we don’t want our patients to have to suffer because of this government’s recklessness towards the NHS.

“But at the same time, a lot of us feel that if we don’t raise our concerns now, then we are letting down our patients for the future.

“The BMA are still sourcing opinions on what people are willing to do, be it continuous strikes with emergency care, full walk-out strikes, or even mass resignation.”