On Tuesday, January 12, I joined the junior doctors’ picket at Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital for a couple of hours before visiting my husband, who is an inpatient at the moment.
I was very happy to show my support and on behalf of my husband. I have seen over the past few months during my husband’s spells in hospital just how hard these doctors and other healthcare staff work 24/7.
The government wants to impose changes on the doctors’ contracts which will will result in the removal of vital safeguards that prevent junior doctors from having to work dangerously long hours. Junior doctors already work very long hours with massive amounts of responsibility. These changes are not being imposed in Wales or Scotland where a truly national health service still exists. If the contracts are imposed doctors would not have to emigrate to seek better working conditions.
If Mr Hunt is genuine about wanting to improve 24-hour seven day a week care in the NHS in England then he will need to increase funding not just to pay for more doctors and nurses but also to reinstate the 24/7 walk-in centres closed in the last five years, re-open the scores of A&E departments closed or downgraded in the last five years and reinstate the 24/7 NHS Direct service. He will also need to reinstate the almost £1bn cut in GP budgets which is threatening even a five-day a week GP service.
Rather than improving the service, the changes to doctors’ contracts would put patient care and even the existence of the NHS at risk. I am grateful to the NHS especially for the care it has given my husband over the past 12 months. However, this is only due to doctors, nurses and other health staff working hard to overcome the damage of increasing fragmentation and privatisation of our health service in England.
Our parents’ generation created the NHS. As long as we have breath in our bodies we will fight to retain the NHS for future generations.
Sue and Gordon Dockett