The failure of government ‘to come to its senses’ has led to the junior doctors taking drastic industrial action for the first time in 40 years, Unite, the country’s largest union, has said.
Unite, which embraces the Medical Practitioners’ Union (MPU) established in 1914, called on the government to come up with new proposals for a fair and equable settlement for the country’s hard-pressed junior doctors.
Unite was commenting after the British Medical Association announced that a ballot of its more than 30,000 junior doctor members had voted overwhelmingly for three days of industrial action next month over proposed new contracts which could endanger patient safety.
Dr Ron Singer, chair of Doctors in Unite (MPU), said: “The overwhelming vote of junior doctors to take strike action is a failure of the government’s treatment of another part of the NHS workforce which it fails to value.
“Doctors in Unite have pledged to support their junior colleagues, backed up by the national health committee of Unite, which represents 100,000 members in the health service.
“This strike represents a failure by government to accept that its proposals and decision to impose them are counter to safe medical practice, as well as to safe working practice.
“The last time junior doctors were driven to take drastic action was 1975, so doctors do not take such decisions lightly nor without due cause.
“The situation is serious. The government should never have allowed the situation to develop as it has. The government’s instructions to NHS employers were narrow and short sighted leaving little, if any, room for meaningful negotiations.
“Refusing to negotiate in good faith led the juniors to walk away. On offer was a contract that was unsafe for patients and unfair to the doctors.
“We will enlist support from other NHS members of Unite and other unions to offer their help within the law to work locally with BMA reps.
“We will exert whatever pressure we can to bring the government to its senses – drop the threat of imposition; open all aspects of the proposed contract to serious negotiation and thereby bring a swift end to this dispute.”
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.