Junior doctors are taking industrial action in England today over changes to their contract proposed by the government.
The British Medical Association has also announced two more dates following a breakdown of talks with the government.
General secretary Dave Prentis joined the BMA picket line at London’s University College Hospital and said: “An NHS where the same high quality care is provided, regardless of the time of day or the day of the week, will not come cheap.
“But Jeremy Hunt thinks he can offer more to patients by paying dedicated healthcare professionals much less.
“Other NHS staff fear that the dispute with junior doctors could be the dry run for a much bigger confrontation.
“They suspect ministers also want to axe the unsocial hours payments that they get for working nights and weekends.
“Working additional night and weekend shifts has helped many health staff survive the government’s harsh and ongoing pay freeze.
“That’s why so many of them across England will be joining picket lines during their breaks and lunchtimes tomorrow to show the health secretary that, while everyone wants to see a seven day NHS, his approach to achieving it is completely wrong.”
UNISON supports this action and has issued advice to members working in the NHS during the action.
The advice, which is similar to advice issues by the BMS, is to work as normal.
But if at any point members believe patient safety may be at risk and planned care cannot go ahead, they must have urgent discussions with their clinical manager.
Members should not be coerced into carrying out unsafe procedures and should always stay within their professional boundaries.
Junior doctors will be taking the following action:
- today – emergency care only, from 8am Tuesday, 12 January to 8am Wednesday, 13 January (24 hours);
- 26-28 January – emergency care only, 8am Tuesday, 26 January to 8am Thursday, 28 January (48 hours);
- 10 February – full withdrawal of labour between 8am and 5pm.
Download the full advice [PDF].