Workers' Weekly On-Line
Volume 46 Number 10, April 16, 2016 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

No to the Imposition of a Contract on the Junior Doctors!
Health Care Is a Right! For an NHS Based on Fulfilling this Right!

Junior Doctors on April 6 at St Thomas' Hospital, London, opposite the Houses of Parliament

In a 48-hour strike which started on Wednesday, April 6, the Junior Doctors continued their fight against the contract that Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt dictated should be imposed in England. Once again the strike was solid showing that the Junior Doctors are not going to accept government dictate on a contract that is neither safe for the patients, nor fair. What was further noticeable in the strike, on the picket lines and on the demonstrations that followed was the cool determination to not be intimidated and the resolve to break the attempt of the government to impose its dictate on them.

At the same time, over these days what was also evident is the increasing support from the people and a sense that this fight of the doctors is also synonymous with protecting the NHS against further attacks from the government and its further privatisation agenda with thousands taking part in demonstrations in London, Newcastle and elsewhere. The conclusion that is being drawn is that enough is enough. The whole direction that the NHS is being driven in is at fault and a new direction is needed based on a government where people constitute the public authority to guarantee the right to health care.

Today, the government see the Junior Doctors as a block to their plans to impose a business model on the health service and they are prepared to jeopardise the lives and health of the public in its fanatical pursuit of imposing this contract on the Junior Doctors. In order to hide its real aims the government claims this is for achieving a 24/7 NHS. Yet, unbelievably it is attacking the very human factor that the health service relies on. The government is assaulting front-line medical staff who have the social consciousness that provides and sustains in the real world the NHS 24-hour service under the very difficult circumstances that successive governments have created in the NHS. Also, successive governments have not funded the training of sufficient doctors, nurses and other health staff for the existing services for many years let alone training more medical staff for increasing those services as the government claims it will. In fact, the government's whole attempt to cut pay, pensions, worsen conditions and overwork staff in the NHS is having the opposite effect and increasing the exodus of vital medical staff from the NHS.

At the same time, Jeremy Hunt and government ministers, whilst saying they will impose the new contract in August and facing further strike dates on April 26-27, still continue to refuse to make any concessions, or even negotiate with the British Medical Association (BMA). Dr Johann Malawana, Chair of the BMA Junior Doctors Committee, has emphasised that the BMA is the one seeking to find a negotiated settlement, and that the way for Jeremy Hunt to avoid strikes by the Junior Doctors is to abandon the imposition of a contract and negotiate. Speaking at a demonstration and rally of over 1,000 on April 9 in Newcastle he said: "As citizens of this country no one wants this. We want a health service that genuinely is there to look after us all when it matters and stands up and catches us when we fall. If we can't have that kind of service what is the point of government. Why do we even have this government if they can't be bothered to look after the most vulnerable and sick people out there."

In other words, what is becoming increasingly exposed is this neo-liberal way of government by dictate. A government which imposes the will of the monopolies and the ruling elite and their state cannot be tolerated. A modern society needs a public authority that functions in the interests of all, including upholding the right to health care. It is the neo-liberal dictate by successive governments that has led to the staffing levels crisis and the financial crisis in the hospital trusts. In fact it was why the NHS was divided by previous governments into a "purchaser/provider" split and hospitals were turned into "Trusts". In this so-called internal market in health they could then declare NHS hospitals and community services that should be fully funded as "over-spending" so they can put them under financial investigation with an eye to involving private sector financial consultants and private health care companies who receive lucrative contracts. When these contracts fail, which so many inevitably have, then there is no problem ensuring that the private sector gets paid again and again for failure, while NHS hospitals are continually "monitored" and their finances relentlessly cut every year in so-called "efficiency savings".

WWIE calls on the whole working class and people to step up their support for the junior doctors. The whole polity must oppose the government's attack on the public good and its promotion of a direction for the NHS that champions health cuts, private market interests and attacks the pay and conditions of health workers. The working class and people must fight for a new direction and a publicly-controlled health care system based on fulfilling the right of all to health care. We call on the working class to inscribe on its banner that health care is a right. This is the way forward.

No to the Imposition of a Contract on the Junior Doctors!
No to the Privatisation of the Health Service!
Health Care Is a Right! For an NHS Based on Fulfilling this Right!

Left: Whipps Cross, East london     Right: Demonstration by Barts Health Trust
Junior Doctors outside Hackney Town Hall, April 7

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Left: Demonstration in Newcastle on April 9 in support of the Junior Doctors
Right: Junior Doctors have begun a 24/7 vigil outside the Department of Health,
waiting for Jeremy Hunt, who declared his willingness to meet Junior Doctors at
any time, to occupy his chair and talk

Left: Lewisham Hospital      Right: Royal United Hospital, Bath

Left: Bristol Royal Infirmary     Right: Calderdale Royal Hospital

Left: Royal Free Hospital, London      Right: Homerton University Hospital

Left: Addenbrookes Hospital      Right: Dewsbury, Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust

Left: Doncaster Royal Infirmary     Right: Hull Royal Infirmary

Left: William Harvey Hospital, Ashford, Kent     Right: St Pancras Hospital, London

Left: Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital     Right: Musgrove Park Hospital, Taunton

Left: Freeman Hospital, Newcastle upon Tyne     Right: Junior Doctors
from Kingston Hospital at Clapham Junction, South West London

Left: York Hospital     Right: Huddersfield Royal Infirmary


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