Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has been as ‘slippery as an eel’ in his dealings with the junior doctors, Unite, the country’s largest union, said today (Tuesday 9 February).
Unite, which embraces Doctors in Unite (DiU), was commenting in advance of tomorrow’s planned strike action by junior doctors in their long-running dispute over pay and weekend working. The 24-hour strike will see the junior doctors provide only emergency care from 08:00.
Unite national officer for health Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe said: “Jeremy Hunt has made evasiveness into an art form with his twisting-and-turning. He has failed to negotiate in good faith to resolve the junior doctors’ dispute.
“He has always been keen to blame everyone else except himself for the pressures on the 1.3 million NHS workforce in England and the accompanying financial crisis facing the health service.
“He became health secretary in September 2012 and the NHS under his watch is buckling under the pressure. For example, the waiting times for being seen at A&E within four hours are getting worse.
“The junior doctors are the latest part of the NHS workforce to suffer from his disingenuousness – he has proved to be as slippery as an eel. But he now needs to step up and settle this junior doctors’ dispute – the public demands no less.”
Dr Jackie Applebee, DiU’s rep on BMA GPs' committee said: “We wholeheartedly support the junior doctors. They are quite right to oppose a contract which would make them work more for less pay.
“Their dispute is symptomatic of the financial crisis in the NHS. The government wants to make NHS staff pay for the underfunding of the NHS.”
Dr David Wrigley, a Lancashire GP and chair of the DiU branch said: “It's not just junior doctors who know how difficult things are in the NHS. GPs are in crisis, too, as they see their patients’ funding reduced year on year.
“At the same time, the NHS is rightly moving more patient care out of hospitals and closer to our patients’ own homes but this places additional pressures on general practice when no resources are transferred at the same time.
“GPs and community nurses, as well as local social services, need more resources to help their patients rather than continuing with more Tory cuts.”
Doctors in Unite will be on picket lines supporting junior doctors who find themselves in the front line of defending the health service and delivering patient care. The government must address this crisis in the NHS by correcting the serious underfunding in the NHS.
Notes to editors:
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.