5th Dec, 2016

MPs 'disappointed' as junior doctors plan strikes

Joshua Godfrey 8th Jan, 2016 Updated: 20th Oct, 2016

EVESHAM’s and Pershore’s MPs have branded planned strikes by junior doctors next week as ‘disappointing’ as services at Worcestershire Royal could be disrupted

A break down in talks between the Government and the British Medical Association has led to the 24-hour walk-out next Tuesday, January 12 after the two-sides failed to reach an agreement on a new contract.

Strikes are going ahead as a result of Government plans to reduce the pay junior doctors receive at weekends, in an attempt to reduce health budget costs so Conservative ministers can introduce their flagship policy of a seven day NHS service.

Both MPs are hoping that talks will resume between the two-sides before next Tuesday to try and avert any industrial action, while both claim negotiations over the new contracts did seem to be going well after previous planned strikes were scrapped.

Harriett Baldwin, Pershore’s MP, said: “It is disappointing that the BMA have chosen to announce industrial action while good progress was being made in negotiations with the Department for Health and I hope that the BMA will return to the table.

“Our absolute priority is patient safety and making sure that the NHS delivers high-quality care 7 days a week – and we know that’s what doctors want too – so I hope that a solution can be found which will head off this industrial action.”

Evesham’s MP, Nigel Huddleston, said: “My colleagues in Government felt that good progress had been made in negotiations with 15 of the 16 issues put forward by the union resolved – the one exception being the issue of weekend pay.

“It is disappointing that the BMA have chosen to make the threat of industrial action which I don’t believe helps anyone, but I am pleased that the Government have asked ACAS (the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) to reconvene talks in the hope the BMA will return to negotiations in order to develop a new contract that is better for both doctors and patients.”

Services are likely to be affected at Worcestershire Royal, but hospital bosses appear confident their contingency plans will help to try and reduce some of the disruption.

Dr Andy Phillips, Interim Medical Director for Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “Along with all NHS providers, we are drawing up contingency plans to ensure that we run safe services and we would like to reassure both staff and patients that we expect to provide as full a service as we possibly can during this period.

“We have tried and tested plans to deal with a range of disruptions and we would like to thank our staff for their continued support and commitment during this period.”