Norman Lamb: Junior doctors can’t all be dismissed as militants


Junior doctors are to hold three more one-day strikes. The British Medical Association, which represents the doctors, has also announced that it is seeking a judicial review into the imposition of the new contract because the government failed to carry out an equalities impact study.

Norman Lamb has added his voice to the debate:

Jeremy Hunt was wrong to impose new contracts on Junior Doctors, when there is clearly still huge opposition to its terms. These planned strikes heighten the risk junior doctors will leave the NHS in their droves and work abroad decimating our health service. Both sides need to get back round the negotiating table and hammer out a contract which works for patient safety.

The bottom line is that the NHS is operating under unsustainable pressure and this dispute is yet another symptom of that. The Government has to recognise that there is something badly wrong when the vast majority of junior doctors support continue strike action. They can’t all be dismissed as militants and the claim that they have been misled won’t wash. It provides yet more evidence of the case for a cross party commission aimed at achieving a long term settlement for the NHS and the care system.

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  • The only militant is Jeremy Hunt.

    And…. not impressed that LDV is carrying an ad to reduce tobacco tax ……

  • Eddie Sammon 24th Feb '16 - 11:52am

    In response to David Raw, clearly there is a problem when some doctors threaten emergency services strikes. We can have a debate on another thread about accepting money for reducing tobacco tax, but there’s got to be a limit on taxation.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 24th Feb '16 - 1:58pm

    I agree with everything Norman says on this but there is something he does not say, that I do, that a strike by doctors , on , pay, or conditions of employment , is wrong !

    Because neither he or Tim have been asked, they have not said if they feel that .I believe the doctors are not militant , they are intransigent.They are getting to the point of desperation , not because of any contract, that has but so far been theoretical , no , because , in practice , they are indeed overworked and stressed.That is why Norman is right , and why I believe a strike is wrong.

    What doctors are really almost asking for as a result of this , is that Hunt and the government give them every aspect of what they want . Plus two added things , though.

    Firstly, a massive investment to bring back and in , more doctors, on the terms they want, for a seven day a week service , proper.

    Then , every doctor signs a no strike clause as part of the new settlement.No more of this. That is what I call agreement.

  • I agree there is a degree of intransigence being shown by the BMA.

    It amuses and sadness me to note that it is only now that the BMA are raising the red herring of the possible failure to conduct an equalities impact study. If the BMA had been doing their job, they would have flagged the need or not for such a study months ago… In any case the NHS Employers have committed to publish an assessment in March, well before the contract is introduced in August and in keeping with ACAS’s guidelines…

    Aside: WRT the tobacco tax advertising that is being targetted at LDV this week. What I find odd is the impression the adverts in their choice of colour scheme etc. are portraying about smokers – it certainly doesn’t make me want to support their cause…

  • It is outrageous that the Health Minister is attempting to enforce a dangerous and unworkable contract on junior doctors in order to satisfy a manifesto pledge which was not properly thought through or costed out.

    This contract will drive doctors away and the remainder will not be able to cope with the demand. There is already a shortage, and the doctors already provide a huge amount of free labour through goodwill. Not for much longer.

    NHS employers and the government continue to antagonise doctors at every stage. They repeatedly misuse statistics. The rotas they have produce are completely unrealistic and terrible for training and continuity of care. They also have NOT increased the numbers of doctors available at the weekend, which was meant to be the point of the exercise! (one of the example rotas sees doctors working 3 weekends in a row, then 2 weekends in a row, despite Hunt’s claim that “no doctor will work consecutive weekends”. In addition, some of the rotas see doctors doing single night shifts, followed by 13 hour day shifts every week for 5 weeks in a row.)They have admitted their pay calculator is wrong.

    What choice to junior doctors have?
    1. Strike, and try and force a compromise which secures better patient care, realistic staffing and better conditions
    2. Accept the contract and run the risk of burnout and/or 30% pay cut and/or accepting being in a system that may result in unecessary deaths due to understaffing
    3. Quit the medical profession
    4. Emigrate

  • Tell you what would be really handy, if we had a copy of the Health & Social care act risk register that we could have a look at, check if this was one of those risks.

    Anyone remember that?

  • Clive Peaple 25th Feb '16 - 7:58am

    The term ‘militant’ dehumanises a group of hardworking, overstretched human beings who have right on their side. Opposed by the real power behind Jeremy Hunt, cousin Virginia Bottomley who’s a powerful Private Health lobbyist in the Lords. (Also an ex Health Secretary who gave JH considerable ‘bunk ups’ in his career – see Wiki). Even using the phrase ‘militant’ starts to win the battle for a very sleazy Tory establishment… Interesting fact: Hunt inherited his safe Tory seat from cousin Virginia.

  • It is important to state that the only party with the responsibility and resources for the service/company is the employer. Part of that responsibility is to establish a relationship with the employees. Employees are not sheep especially those who are as intelligent and committed as doctors. Hunt is relying on the generating public resentment of unions and strikes
    Norman Lamb is the voice of sanity and don’t let us forget his leading role in the campaign for mental Heath.

  • @ Clive People. Don’t make too much of Jeremy Hunt as a relation of Virginia Bottomley. The clan of cousins also includes Harriet Harman, Tristram Hunt, Kitty Usher, and Peter Jay – all Labour – and of course our very own Prince across the Water (and pal of Vince), Matthew Oakeshott. I suppose it says a lot about the chattering classes who actually run this country.

    As to J. Hunt, sorry folks, but we don’t have that problem in Scotland….. indeed the doctors are voting with their feet. The ‘Recruiter’ newsletter highlights the Scottish Government’s successful campaign to lure doctors across the border, and focuses on ‘exciting’ opportunities. Tue, 9 Feb 2016

  • PS. And if you read the link, our litigiously active friend Alistair seems to be getting some of them in Orkney.

  • Clive Peaple 25th Feb '16 - 10:11pm

    @David Raw Point taken – but the links with V B run rather more strongly. Try Wikipedia as a start point and yes, I do realise that JH is fourth cousin, once removed to the Queen, an Admiral’s son and contemporary PPE student with Boris and David C. VB is an ex Heath Sec who strongly lobbies for Private Health, and helped JH unstintingly (try ‘Hot Courses’ and British Council for one.

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