January 18, 2019

Junior doctors accused of ‘putting lives at risk in political strike’

ORGANISERS of tomorrow’s junior doctors’ strike were accused yesterday of endangering patients’ lives with a politically motivated campaign based on “mis-information”.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he was writing to doctors in a bid to avert industrial action by spelling out his proposals.

Mr Hunt said: “One of the most disappointing things about this dispute has been the amount of misinformation that has gone around about what the Government is trying to do.”

Mr Hunt denied doctors’ claims that he wanted to cut pay and said 99 per cent of junior staff will get the same or more than now.

He said they will also be under less pressure at weekends because there will be more colleagues to support them.

He said: “Patients must always come before politics. Of course it’s a concern if some elements within the British Medical Association are seeing this as a political opportunity to bash a Tory government that they hate. I’m sure the vast majority of doctors are not in that place.”

But he admitted that during the strike “it will be difficult to guarantee that every patient will be kept safe”.

Patients will suffer with thousands of operations cancelled because of the planned 24-hour strike by up to 45,000 junior doctors over proposed changes to their pay and conditions.

In their first walkout for more than 40 years, they will withdraw all but emergency care from 8am and plan to do the same over 48 hours from January 26.

A total stoppage is threatened from 8am to 5pm on February 10 when they will not cover for emergencies either.

The BMA insisted it was apolitical, adding: “The call for industrial action was made by junior doctors themselves, with 98 per cent voting in favour.”

On Friday conciliation service Acas said talks had been “constructive” and would continue this week but it was too late to prevent tomorrow’s action.

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