Junior doctors are back on the picket line at Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital this morning as their dispute over contract changes continues.
Members of the British Medical Association began a 24 hour walkout at 8am today in protest at the government’s proposed reforms, which they say will damage patient care.
Although they are continuing to provide emergency care, a number of clinics and operations have been cancelled because of the strike.
And, as colleagues and other passing motorists sounded their horns in support of the strikers, medics and government officials blamed each other for the continuing dispute.
Dr Shrestha Sinha, an anasthetic registrar at the QEH and a local BMA representative, accused ministers of not responding to their concerns reasonably and ignoring the reasons behind past scandals.
He said: “This government has failed to learn the lessons of Mid-Staffs.
“Providing quality care costs money and the government don’t want to spend money on more staff or making sure staff are protected and rested and capable of doing their work.
“I think Jeremy Hunt wants to have a Mid-Staffs type hospital in every trust.”
But, in a statement, the Department for Health said: “This strike is completely unnecessary. It is very disappointing that tens of thousands of patients and NHS staff have been inconvenienced by the BMA.
“We have now agreed the vast majority of the contract detail with the BMA but it’s a great shame they have broken the agreement we made at ACAS to discuss the outstanding issue of Saturday working and pay for unsocial hours.”
However, national media reports this morning have suggested that as many as 90 per cent of junior doctors are prepared to leave the NHS in England if the proposed contract is imposed.
And Dr Sinha said: “I’m one of the 90 per cent. If NHS England cares so little about us that they’re willing to enforce this on us, why would we keep working for these people?”