Junior doctors strike over “unsafe” government proposals

Junior doctors from Burnley General Hospital’s Lancashire Women and Newborn Centre joined colleagues across the country in striking this week.

The junior medics, working primarily in obstetrics and gynaecology, said their walkout had been forced on them by “unfair” and “unsafe” proposed changes to working shift patterns.

Junior doctors on strike outside Burnley General Hospital

Junior doctors on strike outside Burnley General Hospital

The first all-out doctors’ strike in the history of the NHS saw doctors walk out of routine and emergency care from 8am to 5pm in a dispute over working hours and pay, as well as payments for working on Saturdays.

Dr Lucy Higgins (33), who joined colleagues in a picket line in Briercliffe Road, said: “This contract will not help us to keep our patients safe. It won’t deal with the so-called ‘weekend effect’ either.

“Spreading teams of doctors won’t reduce the weekend effect, it will just spread the problem elsewhere.

“The proposed shift patterns will effectively mean junior doctors working with jet-lag which is unsafe.

This is not about Saturday pay, but about valuing staff, protecting patients and ensuring the longevity of the NHS.

Dr Janette Mill

“Our strike is working on the principle of do no harm. It is like surgery in that the operation is fighting against an illness that needs treatment.”

Dr Higgins was joined by colleagues John Shanks (33), Scarlett Hills (27), Janette Mill (28), Samantha Cox (29), Luciana Torossian (28) and Patrick Rosser (28) from the BMA union.

Dr Mill said: “Junior doctors have been desperately trying to talk to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt who has refused.

“This is not about Saturday pay, but about valuing staff, protecting patients and ensuring the longevity of the NHS.

“We don’t want to compromise the care we give. The rapid cycling of the shifts and rota patterns proposed are unworkable.”

The junior doctors were also joined by cancer patient Joseph Bracewell who has recently been treated at Burnley.

He said: “There is an agenda to sell off the NHS and I wanted to do my bit to support the junior doctors. I want the NHS protected for the sake of my grandchildren.”

The junior doctors said they received “overwhelming” support from the Burnley public with many leaving food and drink gifts, which the doctors donated to a local food bank.