Strike could cause ‘inevitable’ disruption

Medical students and doctors gather at Brighton Station before setting off to the rally
Medical students and doctors gather at Brighton Station before setting off to the rally

Junior doctors are preparing to walk out over proposed changes to their contracts.

Junior doctors are preparing to walk out over proposed changes to their contracts - which could lead to “inevitable” disruption for patients in Brighton and Hove.

Following a ballot of more than 37,000 junior doctors in England, more than 99% have voted in favour of industrial action short of a strike, and 98% for full strike action.

The first strike which is set to affect Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals Trust (BSUH), which runs the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton, will start on December 1, with another two dates earmarked for later in the month. A spokesman for the BMA, the doctors’ trade union, said: “While the BMA regrets the inevitable disruption that this will cause, junior doctors have clearly been left with no alternative due to the government’s continued threat to impose a contract that is unsafe for patients and unfair for doctors.”

The new contract proposes an 11% rise in basic pay for junior doctors. However, the number of hours during the week which are classed as “unsociable” and therefore better paid - are being cut.

The government also proposes to scrap guaranteed pay increases, linked to time in the job, and replace them with a system where junior doctors progress through different stages in training.

Dr Rob Galloway, Accident and Emergency (AandE) consultant at the trust, said: “The unprecedented high level of support for the strike and the incredibly high turn out shows how badly Jeremy Hunt has handled the situation and the distrust he has created.

“Already many juniors in AandE work one in two weekends and we have as many junior staff working at weekends as weekdays. His plans will make weekend emergency cover worse.”

Dr Galloway added: “The main worry I have is not about the strike but how much harder it will be to attract good doctors to work in hard specialities like AandE in the NHS the future.”

Medical students and doctors from Brighton marched against the contract at a demonstration in London last month.

In response to the strike action, a spokesman for BSUH said: “We are currently working on detailed, speciality-specific plans to ensure the standard of care we provide our patients during the proposed strike is unaffected.”