‘How much are we expected to give up?’ Junior doctor contract row escalates as thousands support strike

London doctors threatening industrial action are among thousands of disgruntled medical professionals opposed to new contract proposals offered by the Government.

Members of the British Medical Association are planning streets protests against the proposed 30% pay cut and extended working hours, while their Trade Union representatives are expected to call a strike ballot.

More than 75,000 people have now signed an online petition to support a strike for junior doctors and a march is planned for Monday.

One of the many outraged members of the medic profession is Jemma Theivendran, from Surbiton, a member of the North Thames Junior Doctor Committee.

She said: “I’m signing because medicine is a vocation but how much are we expected to give up?

“How is Saturday night equivalent to Tuesday morning?

“How is it that I trained for six years of med school, accruing six years worth of loans and six years into my career I have little left over to scrape together a deposit for a house?

“Thank goodness I don’t have children to support – they want us to save lives, work antisocial hours and do it for 30% less?! This is not on!.”

Meanwhile, in unprecedented move, 13 leaders of medical Royal Colleges and Faculties have expressed their concerns over the recent junior doctor contract proposals.

Presidents from the Royal Colleges wrote to health secretary Jeremy Hunt, warning that the proposed contracts for junior doctors represent ‘a real and immediate threat to the current stated priorities of the NHS’.

It follows a separate warning from the trainee doctors’ group (ATDG) of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, which represents the professional interests of all the UK’s 240,000 doctors.

Responding to the letter a Department of Health spokesperson said: “Our starting point is for stronger safeguards that go beyond legislation to make sure doctors do not work unsafe hours.

“But we want to engage with the doctors on the details, which is why we are disappointed that the British Medical Association junior doctors’ committee has decided against re-entering negotiations.”

The new contracts which have sparked angry protests from the medical profession will extend the normal working pattern and establish reduced pay.

Junior doctors are outraged that the contract would involve pay cuts up to 40%, with overtime rates being scrapped for work between 7am and 10pm on every day apart from Sunday.

They argue that after years of training and student debt this is a cruel blow which could result in a flight to medical jobs abroad or other professions.

Picture courtesy of Lucas Hayas, with thanks

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