JUNIOR doctors are on strike today over proposed changes to their contract by government.
Approximately 130 members of the British Medical Association (BMA) at University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire (UHCW) are joining those across the country to walk out in opposition of a contract which is being pushed through by the Department of Health.
Junior doctors argue the the changes will force them to work longer hours with no extra pay and potentially put patients’ lives at risk.
Starting at 8am this morning (January 12), they will only provide emergency care for 24 hours – causing roughly 192 outpatient appointments and 22 planned operations to be postponed.
Junior doctors’ previously planned to walk out last month, but delayed the strike while talks – which failed to reach a breakthrough – took place.
Dave Prentis, general secretary of public sector union, Unison, said: “An NHS where the same high quality care is provided, regardless of the time of day or the day of the week, will notcome cheap. But Jeremy Hunt thinks he can offer more to patients by paying dedicated healthcare professionals much less.
“Other NHS staff fear that the dispute with junior doctors could be the dry run for a much bigger confrontation. They suspect ministers also want to axe the unsocial hours payments that they get for working nights and weekends.
“Working additional night and weekend shifts has helped many health staff survive the government’s harsh and ongoing pay freeze. That’s why so many of them across England will be joining picket lines during their breaks and lunchtimes tomorrow to show the health secretary that, while everyone wants to see a seven day NHS, his approach to achieving it is completely wrong.”
A UHCW spokesman reassured patients that the hospital has plans in place to minimize the disruption and ensure services remain safe.
“We may need to reschedule some patient appointments and decisions to reschedule appointments will be made by the patient’s specific doctor and patients will be contacted individually if they are affected.
“If patients have not been contacted they should turn up for their treatment as usual. We also do not anticipate any disruption to our Labour Ward or Lucina Birth Centre.
“Although A&E will be operating as usual, given the industrial action taking place, we would urge people to think sensibly about whether it is appropriate to attend or not. There will be extra pressure in the system and in order for us to be able to treat the sickest patients quickly we would ask that people consider using pharmacists or calling NHS 111.”
An additional strike where junior doctors will only offer emergency care will take place between Tuesday, January 26 and Thursday, January 28.
There will also be a full walkout between 8am and 5pm on Wednesday, February 10.