The junior doctor contract dispute has taken its toll; eight gruelling months, three major protests, four days of strike action, and 54,000 angry, articulate, dedicated individuals.
We have staged sit ins, delivered giant books, set up fake betting shops, supported two hugely successful choirs and one Christmas number one, created fashion lines, and even collaborated with a Time Lord or two. We have become our own investigative journalists: uncovering dubious research practice, revealing departmental incompetence and lies, and documenting tragic cases of the government’s spin causing real patient harm. We have become our own researchers: revealing flawed data, misrepresentation of statistics and huge holes in the government’s ‘evidence’ arguments.
We are not giving up anytime soon.
Why are we doing this? David Cameron and company would have you believe we are grabbing for a payrise, grabbing for free weekends and better perks. Many of you know by now this is simply untrue.
What we are terrified of is an imposed contract, unmodelled, uncosted, and unbelievably unsafe. The NHS is on its knees- the knock-on effect to recruitment and retention alone, not just for junior doctors but all NHS staff, could collapse the entire service.
So what next? How can we make a government listen to our concerns.
This. We, a group of patients, doctors and NHS staff, are proud to announce the initiation of a second independent judicial review into the junior doctors contract.
We are not the BMA- they have challenged the government as an employment dispute, on equality grounds.
We are challenging them over patient safety- patients who are concerned an already underfunded NHS cannot cope with the government’s insistence on ‘7-day’ services without additional funds or additional doctors. We have huge gaps in cover already- 60% increase in rota gaps for doctors, 50% increase in agency nurses in a single year. 9/10 junior doctors have said they will resign if the new contract goes ahead. Even if 1/10 actually leave- for locum work, abroad, pharmaceuticals, or even simply stop being doctors- the system will crumble. Then the nurses, the pharmacists, the AHPs, the consultants, the GPs will undergo the same.
We have instructed renowned Human Rights and judicial review specialist law firm, Bindmans LLP, to investigate the legality of the decisions of the Secretary for Health. We will ask for a wide-ranging review into the impact on staffing, costing and the evidence for need and benefit of imposition. We will force the government to finally listen, and come up with the so-far missing evidence to back up months of wild claims and false promises.
At the very least we will see the necessity, and take the time to consider the biggest gamble in the history of the NHS. At best, we may finally prove that the DoH and government have been peddling smoke and mirrors, and find the real reasons for the underfunding, the enforced contracts, the increased privatisation. Most importantly, we may avert catastrophic patient harm.
What can you do to help?
We are not an organisation- we are simply individuals who care deeply about the future of the NHS. We are crowdfunding our case here, at CrowdJustice. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook as #JustHealth. We are off to a great start, but need at least £100,000 or more to fund such a complex and important legal action. We will possibly need more to keep going, and it will be only your support that will make this possible.
For years I have ranted on about trying to save our NHS. Many of you agree, but ask “what can I do about it?”
This. You can do this.
We can save our NHS. We must.