The government is trying to demonise the junior doctors, in the same way that Margaret Thatcher bullied the miners, Unite, the country’s largest union, said today (Monday 25 April).
Unite, which has 100,000 members in the health service, said health secretary Jeremy Hunt was attempting to politicise the dispute, when he should be negotiating in a constructive fashion.
Unite national officer for health Barrie Brown said: “It is unforgiveable that the government should be raising the spectre that the junior doctors are trying to bring down the government.
“These are the same sordid tactics that Margaret Thatcher employed against the miners in the 1980s – and should be strongly deplored. This squalid demonisation must stop.
“The key to this dispute is the legitimate concerns that the junior doctors have regarding patient safety and the lack of resources available to fund weekend working in a safe manner.
“This has been accompanied by Hunt’s high-handed and arrogant imposition of this flawed and misguided contract which discriminates against female doctors, part-timers and those doctors with disabilities.
“At the weekend, Hunt was offered a way forward with the suggestion that the contract is piloted. He flatly refused to engage with this sensible idea. As health secretary, he has an obligation to the public to do everything in his power to foster a climate for resolution and reconciliation.
“Instead he is busy at Richmond House stoking the fires of conflict with inflammatory rhetoric. The buck stops firmly with him in regards to patients’ safety.”
Unite, which embraces Doctors in Unite, is fully supportive of the junior doctors, saying the last thing the doctors want to do is to go on strike.
Barrie Brown added: “The junior doctors have been pushed against the wall by the government. What Hunt needs to do is to withdraw the imposition of the contract and sit down and negotiate in a constructive manner with the BMA.
“The NHS is struggling with understaffing and underfunding. If junior doctors lose this battle, then nurses, porters, midwives and radiographers will be next, as the Tories are hell-bent on reducing the NHS to a rump service ready for the private sector to pick up the most lucrative contracts across England.”
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:
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.