The first junior doctors’ strike in 40 years finished at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, but one NHS chief has already warned that future strikes could cost patients their lives. Speaking to the BBC’s Today Programme, Chris Hopson, the chief executive at NHS Providers, the body which represents NHS Trusts, said there was no guarantee that patients wouldn’t die if junior doctors go ahead and not provide emergency care in a planned strike
This is what Hopson said:
BBC: If there is an all-out strike by junior doctors, nobody will die because of it?
Hopson: I don’t think we can give that guarantee at this point.
The doctors are striking because they believe the new pay contract offered by the government could extend their “routine” (basic pay) working hours from 60 hours a week to 90, meaning that they would no longer be paid extra for working nights or weekends.
Twenty-thousand operations and appointments were cancelled because of Tuesday’s strikes, but the British Medical Association (BMA), the body which called the strike, is planning two more. The second one, which is supposed to take place next month, would be a complete walkout — so juniors doctors wouldn’t even step in to provide emergency care if it was needed. It is this strike that Hopson says the hospital chief executives he represents are worried about.
Dr Mark Porter, the council chair of the BMA also spoke to the Today Programme and refused to rule out the withdrawal of emergency care, saying it would only cause “further disruption.”
The strike really could happen because the government is determined not to cave into the junior doctors demands over their new contract. Basically, the Department for Health feel they have enough goodwill with the public to hold out — especially because the public is so concerned over the potential withdrawal of emergency care.
A Conservative MP elected in 2015 told Business Insider that “no strike should threaten emergency care” and the strikes are “disappointing and dangerous. Disputes should be solved by negotiation not strikes.”
If the junior doctors do withdraw emergency medical care they will risk losing a huge amount of public support. A recent BBC / Ipsos MORI poll said 66% of the public support the doctors.
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