Press release: Backing the junior doctors’ strike 6 April

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[Tuesday 5 April 2016]


Keep Our NHS Public stands alongside the junior doctors as they are forced to strike to defend themselves tomorrow, Wednesday 6 April. And is crystal clear on where the blame lies: firmly with the government.

The junior doctors are opposing the undemocratic, bullying decision of Jeremy Hunt to impose the junior doctor contract unilaterally in August. And so, the first of two 48-hour strikes by junior doctors this month commences 8am Wednesday 6th April. Now they will provide emergency cover but they will withdraw that cover for the second 48-hour strike commencing 26 April.

Their consultant colleagues will ensure that there is safe and good continuity of emergency services during this action and that emergency patients will not come to any harm.

The government must shoulder the responsibility for cancelled non-emergency surgery and outpatient appointments, just as they are responsible for the 70,000 cancelled operations last year for reasons including fragmentation of services worsened by government legislation and underfunding for 6 years in a row.

What a failure of government to have driven doctors and the BMA to the point where they have no choice but to strike. The Government’s own Equality Impact Assessment confirms the new contract discriminates against women (over 54% of junior doctors) but attempts to justify that discrimination:

‘[A practice] that causes a particular disadvantage is lawful if it is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.’ And what is the government’s ‘legitimate’ aim? – ‘To enable employers to roster doctors when needed across seven days including evenings and weekends more affordably.’ [1]

 This amounts to using junior doctors as cheap labour and the deregulation and weakening of payment for unsocial hours will roll out rapidly to the rest of the NHS workforce if the doctors lose.

Dr Tony O’Sullivan, recently retired as a consultant paediatrician and Co-Chair of Keep Our NHS Public, said:

“KONP sees this bitter attack on junior doctors in the wider context of government measures to undermine the NHS as a public service. We call on the Shadow Opposition to unequivocally support the junior doctors in rejecting the imposed contract and to stand up for a return of the NHS to a national public service, fully funded from taxation, and able to provide sufficient doctors and nurses to staff safe public services once again.” [2]



Editors’ Notes

Keep Our NHS Public was formed in 2005 and has a broad-based, public membership. There are 65 local groups, plus a national association. It has the explicit aim of countering marketisation [3,4] and privatisation of the NHS by campaigning for a publicly funded, publicly provided and publicly accountable NHS, available to all on the basis of clinical need. It is opposed to cuts in service which run counter to these principles. Further details:


KONP’s Campaigns and Press Officer is Alan Taman:

07870 757 309

[email protected]

[email protected]



Facebook: Keep-Our-NHS-Public




[3] Davis, J., Lister, J. and Wrigely, D. (2015) NHS For Sale. London: Merlin Press.

Leys, C. and Player, S. (2011) The Plot Against the NHS. Pontypool: Merlin

Lister, J. (2008) The NHS After 60: For Patients or Profits? London: Middlesex University Press

Owen, D. (2014) The Health of the Nation: The NHS in Peril. York: Methuen, Chapter 4.

Player, S. (2013) ‘Ready for market’. In NHS SOS ed by Davis, J. and Tallis, R. London: Oneworld, pp.38-61.

[4] The belief that ‘competition is always best’ does not work when applied to healthcare. A comprehensive and universal health service is best funded by public donation, which has been shown to be far more efficient overall than private-insurance healthcare models

[Davis, J., Lister, J. and Wrigley, D. (2015) NHS For Sale. London: Merlin Press. Chapters 2 and 8.

Lister, J. (2013) Health Policy Reform: global health versus private profit. Libri: Faringdon.

Pollock, A. and Price, D. (2013) In NHS SOS, ed by Davis, J. and Tallis, R. Oneworld: London, 174.]

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