JUNIOR doctors will strike today over proposed changes to their contract by government.
Members of the British Medical Association (BMA) from South Warwickshire Foundation Trust (SWFT) – which runs Warwick, Leamington, Stratford and Ellen Badger hospitals – are joining those across the country to walk out in opposition of a contract which is being pushed through by the Department of Health.
They say the the changes will force them to work longer hours with no extra pay and potentially put patients’ lives at risk.
The doctors will provide only emergency care for 24 hours, starting today (January 12) from 8am. Many routine appointments and operations across the country have been postponed.
Junior doctors previously planned to walk out last month, but delayed the strike while talks – which failed to reach a breakthrough – took place.
But trust bosses say they are trying to keep disruption to a minimum.
Medical director Charles Ashton said: “We are working with the BMA to ensure that patient safety is not affected. On the days of the industrial action, Consultants and other staff who are not taking industrial action will be working to ensure there is no impact on any of our emergency services.
“We may need to reduce some non-urgent outpatient appointments. The trust will be contacting any patients affected by this directly. If you are unable to attend your appointment please contact the hospital as soon as possible so that this slot can be offered to another patient.”
An additional strike where junior doctors will only offer emergency care will take place between Tuesday January 26 and Thursday January 28.
There will be a full walkout between 8am and 5pm on Wednesday February 10.
A spokesman from Unison, the public sector union, 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 to show the health secretary that, while everyone wants to see a seven day NHS, his approach to achieving it is completely wrong.”