Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has been likened to Pontius Pilate by his continuing inaction to resolve the junior doctors’ dispute, which is set to escalate after Easter.
Unite, the country’s largest union which embraces Doctors in Unite (DiU), said that the lack of urgency displayed by Hunt, the richest member of the cabinet, was bound to raise questions in the public’s mind about his fitness to be health secretary.
Unite head of health Barrie Brown said: “A politician of energy and imagination would have solved this long-running dispute ages ago. However, Hunt has sat on his hands, hoping the issue of overworked junior doctors and their contract would disappear.
“The spirit of negotiation has been replaced with hectoring and bullying which has not gone down well with the public worried about the future of a desperately under-funded NHS on patient welfare.
“It is appropriate that as the escalation of the junior doctors’ strike action is scheduled for after Easter that Jeremy Hunt is likened to Pontius Pilate washing his hands over the very real concerns that doctors have about patient care.”
Chair of DiU Dr David Wrigley, a Lancashire GP, said: “Doctors never want to strike and definitely never want to harm patients. However, doctors feel they have no other option and if the contract is forced through there will be significant harm to patients in the future in an already over-stretched NHS.
“There will more gaps in the rota system; an exodus of doctors abroad who don’t want to work under Hunt’s imposed contract; and poorer care in the long term, with those doctors that remain covering more patients when working overnight and at weekends.”
Notes to editors:
Doctors in Unite (DiU) is a professional section of the Unite health sector, offering doctors a radical voice and employment support on developments in the NHS. Doctors in Unite is the successor organisation to the Medical Practitioners Union (MPU) whose origins go back to the first world war.
For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble in the Unite press office on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940.
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.