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GMB Support Junior Doctors Action

Thursday, November 19, 2015

GMB Support Junior Doctors In England Taking Industrial Action To Defend Terms And Conditions Of Employment

NHS staff are committed to a 24/7 service and staff rostered to work between 7pm and 7am during the week and at weekends must be paid relevant unsocial hours premia says GMB.

GMB, the union for staff in the health and care sector, commented on the overwhelming vote by 37,000 junior doctors in the NHS in England to support strike action to defend terms and conditions of employment. See notes to editors for copy of report on Press Association.

Rehana Azam, GMB National Officer, said “This overwhelming vote shows clearly that doctors and other NHS staff will oppose attempts by Government to redefine unsocial hours and to open the door for excessive working hours.

NHS staff are committed to a 24/7 service. However staff rostered to work between 7pm and 7am during the week and at weekends must be paid relevant unsocial hours premia.

In additions attempts to open the door to watering down the working time directive have to be resisted. The Working Time Directive is not “red tape” as the CBI assert. It was brought in as excessive hours were identified as the direct cause of the Clapham Junction rail disaster where 35 people died and 500 people were injured on 12 December 1988.

The collision was caused by a signal failure due to a wiring fault. An Independent inquiry, chaired by Anthony Hidden, QC, found that the signalling technician responsible had worked a seven-day week for the previous thirteen weeks.

With 98% junior doctors voting in favour of strike action we ask Mr Hunt to think again.

 

NHS staff are the backbone of the NHS yet the Secretary of State for Health continues to pick unnecessary fights with them. The BMA in standing up for junior doctors is standing up for the NHS and the GMB stand in solidarity with all NHS staff standing up to defend their terms and condition.

 

We need the PM to stand in and resolve this dispute because the negotiations set up by Mr Hunt was purposefully set up to fail. Setting pre-conditions on the outcome of any talks is what has led to overwhelming support to take strike action. Put simply the junior doctors rightly have seen through Mr Hunt. We know the new contract is not backed by any extra funding for salaries. Mr Hunt just wants to redistribute the current pay bill by asking doctors to working longer hours for less pay.

At the General Election Cameron promised to increase NHS spending by £8bn and yet his Health Secretary is now trying to redistribute the current NHS funding settlement to deliver the same services by asking NHS staff to work longer hours on less pay. NHS staff have already faced a 10% real term pay cut over the past 5 years and yet the Secretary State for Health remains unsatisfied as he attempts to claw back more of their pay.

The top priority for NHS staff is patient care, yet the government are shirking their responsibilities by not awarding a fair funding settlement and expecting staff to bear the brunt of the funding crisis. During the election we were promised £8bn and yet we are about to go into a winter crisis and the empty billion pounds promise is yet to materialise. The recent OECD report on international health care showed that UK spending on healthcare was falling significantly below the average for leading world economies and yet the government are responding with a coordinated assault on NHS staff who are standing up for patient care.

These cuts have led to a growing catastrophe in the NHS which is impacting on patient care despite the best efforts of fantastic NHS staff.

GMB calls on Osborne to ensure the Autumn CSR Statement sets out a clear fair funding settlement for the NHS. NHS funding per head of population has been falling in real terms since 2010. Cutting NHS staff terms and conditions isn't going to balance the funding needed as we move into a winter of crisis.”

END

Contact: Rehana Azam, GMB National Officer on 07841 181656 or GMB Regional Officers:

Birmingham & West Midands Pauline Hinks on 07809 617 761, London & East of England Warren Kenny on 07843 632394 or Dave Powell on 07710 631349, East Midlands, Les Dobbs on 07966 327 967, North East and Cumbria, Chris Jukes on 07870 176 733, North West, Lisa Ryan 07703 468 968 or Maria Almond 07718 113110, Northern Ireland, Michael Mulholland on 07974 018 413, South East, Nick Day on 07717 510 047, Wales & South West, Paul Gage on 07980 753 117 and Yorkshire, Joan Keane on 07958 156841 or GMB Press Office: 07921 289880 or 07974 251823.

Notes to editors

Copy of report on Press Association dated 19th November.

Junior doctors vote for strikes in contracts row

By Jane Kirby, Press Association Health Editor

Thousands of junior doctors in England have voted overwhelmingly in favour of strikes in a bitter row with the Government.

The British Medical Association (BMA) said 98% voted in favour of strikes, with 2% against and 11 spoilt ballot papers.

More than 37,000 doctors were balloted by the BMA, and 76% took part in the vote.

Asked if they were prepared to take part in industrial action short of a strike, 28,120 (99.4% of the vote) said yes.

Asked if they were prepared to take part in strike action, 27,741 voted yes (98% of the vote) and 564 voted no (2%).

The BMA said it was still keen to avoid strike action and had approached the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) for talks with Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and NHS Employers, which is running negotiations for the Government.

If a strike goes ahead, doctors will take action over three days, providing emergency care only for 24 hours from 8am on December 1, followed by full walkouts from 8am to 5pm on December 8 and 16.

There is expected to be mass disruption to the NHS, with hospitals forced to cancel outpatient clinics and non-urgent operations.

Dr Mark Porter, chair of the BMA council, said: "We regret the inevitable disruption that this will cause but it is the Government's adamant insistence on imposing a contract that is unsafe for patients in the future, and unfair for doctors now and in the future, that has brought us to this point.

"Patients are doctors' first priority, which is why, even with such a resounding mandate, we are keen to avert the need for industrial action, which is why we have approached Acas to offer conciliatory talks with the Health Secretary and NHS Employers to clarify the conflicting information coming from Government over the past weeks.

"The Health Secretary is right when he says this action is 'wholly avoidable'.

"Our message to him is that junior doctors have today made their views perfectly clear but that it is still possible to get back around the negotiating table to deliver a contract that is safe for patients, contains the necessary contractual safeguards to prevent junior doctors being overworked and properly recognises evening and weekend work."

The new contract is set to be imposed from next summer on doctors working up to consultant level.

Mr Hunt tried to avert strikes with a fresh deal, including an 11% rise in basic pay.

This is offset by plans to cut the number of hours on a weekend that junior doctors can claim extra pay for "unsocial" hours.

Currently, 7pm to 7am Monday to Friday and the whole of Saturday and Sunday attract a premium rate of pay.

Under the new plans, a higher rate would run from 10pm to 7am Monday to Friday, and from 7pm on Saturday evenings - a concession on the previous 10pm.

Other proposals are to replace the GP pay supplement - without which GPs would be paid on average around a third less than hospital trainees - and replace it with a "flexible pay premium".

The BMA is concerned this could be removed over time and may only be offered in certain geographic areas.

Mr Hunt has said flexible pay premiums would be applied to more specialities than just general practice and A&E care, with acute medical ward staff and psychiatrists benefiting.

He argues that, under the new deal, just 1% of doctors would lose pay and those would be limited to doctors working too many hours already.

He said maximum working hours per week would fall from 91 to 72.

Dr Johann Malawana, the BMA's junior doctor committee chairman, has said the increase in basic pay is misleading due to the changes to pay for unsocial hours. He said this devalues the vital work junior doctors do in the evenings and at weekends.

The BMA has argued the Government could avoid strikes by offering assurances and lifting the threat that the contract will be imposed.

Guaranteed pay increases linked to time in the job are being scrapped and replaced with a system linked to progression through set training stages.

The BMA argues that this affects some trainees, such as women who take time out to have a baby.

 

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