Junior doctors at Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital have this morning accused ministers of treating them like “children” in their continuing contract dispute.
Members of the British Medical Association (BMA) began their latest 48 hour walkout at 8am today in protest at the government’s plans to impose a new contract on junior doctors.
The Department of Health has described the action as “unnecessary” and urged the union to examine the detail of a deal it maintains is good for both doctors and patients alike.
But Dr Shrestha Sinha, an anasthetic registrar at the QEH and a local BMA representative, said last month’s announcement that the contract would be imposed was a “spectacular insult” to junior doctors.
He said he was still hoping for a negotiated settlement to the dispute, but admitted he and his colleagues remain angry.
He said: “We’re essentially being treated like children when we’re all reasonably hard-working professionals.
“What I hope is that, with some more time to think and some more time to reconsider, the Department of Health can actually see how much distaste there is for their action.”
So far, the Department of Health has not commented on the latest action.
However, in a statement issued when the strike was called last month, they said: “Further strike action is completely unnecessary and will mean tens of thousands more patients face cancelled operations – over a contract that was 90 per cent agreed with the BMA and which senior NHS leaders including Simon Stevens have endorsed as fair and safe.
“The new contract will mean an average 13.5 per cent basic pay rise, and will bring down the maximum number of hours doctors can work.
“We urge junior doctors to look at the detail of the contract and the clear benefits it brings.”
Six operations and more than 100 appointments have been cancelled at the QEH because of the strike, although emergency cover is being provided.
Hospital managers say six elective operations and 71 outpatient appointments have been cancelled in surgery, with a total of 47 appointments cancelled in medicine because of the action.
Chief executive Dorothy Hosein said: “As always our primary commitment is to the welfare of patients and the priority during our contingency planning has been and will continue to be their safety and care.
“We are doing our best to ensure the hospital operates as close to normal as possible for the announced forthcoming strikes. Unfortunately, there will be a number of cancellations.
“As with previous strikes, we will contact any of our patients that are affected. If you have not heard from us, but have an appointment on a strike day, please attend as normal.”