Junior doctors in Banbury will be picketing outside the Horton General Hospital today (Tuesday) in opposition to the Government wanting to remove safety measures that stop them working excessive hours.
There are about 53,000 junior doctors in England already working a seven-day week and many are angry at the way in which the Government has responded to genuine concerns raised by doctors about patient safety and doctors’ wellbeing.
Thousands of doctors are taking industrial action and Dr Alanah Proctor works at the Horton and was at the hospital’s Hightown Road entrance earlier this morning.
She said: “The decision to go on strike has been a massive decision for all doctors and the British Medical Association. We feel that the new contract proposals by the Government and Health Employers England will have a detrimental effect on patient care.
“At present we are only allowed to work a maximum of 48 hours per week. Under the new proposals the financial penalties that employers have will stop us working over that amount will be removed. There will be a return to 100-hour weeks, we stopped that because it was dangerous so it looks like we going back to a similar way of working.”
Junior doctors believe the Government’s plans will harm the next generation and the future of the NHS itself.
They are looking to negotiate a contract which pays fairly for the hours they work, ensures that the hours they work are safe and provides cover at weekends and at night, but recognises the right to family life.
Dr Proctor said: “It will have a massive effect on hospitals especially the Horton. Very few of us actually live in Banbury, we are on training posts and you rotate so I would be in Oxford and we have doctors who rotate from Reading and Milton Keynes, to add on commuting as well as 100-hour week is not going to be safe for patients.
“A large number of junior doctors are potentially looking to either leave the NHS, whether it they go to Scotland or Wales, or go abroad. That means Oxfordshire will not have good quality doctors.”
“There has been a lot of smears in the media that it is all about the money. We are doing this to raise awareness and to talk to people passing by. Patients and doctors will die if we go back to 100-hour working weeks.”
Paul Brennan, director of clinical services at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are working closely with all of our staff to ensure that services continue to be safe during the planned industrial action on 12 January, 2016.
“We regret that the two sides have yet to reach an agreement at a national level and we are very sorry for the inconvenience this is causing to our patients.
“All urgent and emergency provision (including maternity, oncology, renal dialysis, trauma and other urgent services) will continue as usual. Non-urgent elective operations and outpatient appointments on that day are being rescheduled and all patients affected are being contacted and offered an alternative appointment.”
For more information about the contract proposals click here.