Disruption is still expected at hospitals around Derbyshire today (tuesday), despite the planned junior doctor’s strike being called off in the eleventh hour.
Chesterfield Royal Hospital was expecting around 100 junior doctors to take to picket lines this morning before the last minute breakthrough.
But the action was postponed last night (Monday) following four days of talks between Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and the British Medical Association (BMA) which represents doctors.
Speaking to Parliament yesterday, Mr Hunt said: “I’m pleased to report [that] discussions led to a potential agreement early this afternoon between the BMA leadership and the Government.
“This agreement would allow a time-limited period during which negotiations can take place and during which the BMA agrees to suspend strike action and the Government agrees not to proceed unilaterally with implementing a new contract.”
But the industrial action has only been stalled and strikes could be called in January if Mr Hunt refuses to back down over planned new contracts, which the BMA has described as ‘unfair for doctors and dangerous for patients’.
At Chesterfield Royal, early figures suggested that around 17 operations and more than 100 outpatient appointments had been cancelled, with other hospitals across the region facing major disruption.
Dr Mohita Damany, who is a junior doctor and BMA spokesman at the trust, said: “It is a shame that Jeremy Hunt left this so late in the day that there is still a lot of disruption caused due to procedures being cancelled. It’s just a waiting game now to see whether the Government goes back on its word.”
Ministers drew up plans to change the contract of junior doctors in 2012 but talks broke down last year. Government health bosses had planned to impose the new contract next year in England.
The plans include an 11 per cent rise in basic pay for doctors,
However, 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 has argued that people who take time out to have a baby will be unfairly penalised against.
The Government also plans to cut the number of hours during the working week that are classed as unsociable.
Chersterfield MP Toby Perkins said: “The way the Government has handled this has been appalling and we do need to listen to what the junior doctors are saying.
“We don’t want to see a return to the situation in the 1970s and 1980s when people were being forced to work all hours.”
Junior doctors who spoke to the Times today (Tuesday) said they were still waiting for full details of the last-minute deal struck on Monday.