It’s been two weeks since the junior doctor body voted no to the proposed contract. The contract designed to “create a seven day NHS”, which we apparently need to address “weekend mortality”. Except none of this is true. And after a year of beating our collective heads against the all, the message is getting through.
In a Parliamentary hearing in February NHS head Charlie Massey admitted he had no clue what a ‘seven day NHS’ meant or was, and no plan to create it. He was told he was ‘flying blind’ on the issue.
This week the same hearing sat Mr Hunt down, and found what we have all known all along; Mr Hunt broke his pledge to fund the NHS and lied about it. How can there be funding for an expanded service when there isn’t funding for the normal service? When the normal service is collapsing.
And while Jeremy and the managers of he NHS haven’t bothered to study a plan they claim was important enough to force junior doctors to strike over, somebody else has. Professor Bion researched the weekend ‘effect’ and staffing and said ‘I’m convinced seven day services cannot be achieved within current funding”.
But this isn’t news. We’ve been saying it for a year. These are the sticks Jeremy and the department of health have used to beat a whole generation of professionals- the ‘spine’ of the NHS. These are the excuses they have made to replace existing safeguards on working time with flimsy untested alternatives, to discriminate actively against women and parents in medicine, to push morale in the NHS to an all time low.
So what would a rational response be? Your contract has been rejected by the majority, your reasons for creating and pushing the contract have fallen apart, you have a new fresh start in government. You would start over right? Rebuild good will?
Sadly no. Jeremy Hunt is forcing the contract through, and not only that he is now trying to blackmail the group opposing imposition in the courts, Justice 4 Health, by demanding at the last minute £150,000 in costs.
Without this money the court case will never be heard- Jeremy will be free to impose, although he knows this is illegal, and sets a dangerous precedent for every other NHS staff group behind us.
I’m tired, just like you. I just want this to end, just like you. But I also refuse to let our profession and NHS be destroyed. This is our watch. This is our responsibility.
Some of you are doctors, some of you voted No – this is why you voted No. You want a renegotiation, or a moratorium, then imposition must be stopped. It’s time to put your money where your mouth is.
Some doctors voted Yes- you might still want this contract. You might think it’s the best we’re going to get. The yes/no divide was bitter, acrimonious, and brought out the worst in us. A year long dispute as a united profession brought out the best of us. Whether you believe the contract is acceptable or not, we must all agree imposition is wrong. Put your money where your heart is, come together again, and support this cause.
If we don’t fight together, we will fail before we even begin.