Junior doctors at Stevenage’s Lister Hospital slam government’s decision to impose new contract for hours and pay

Junior doctors protesting outside the Lister Hospital during a previous one-day strike in January

Junior doctors protesting outside the Lister Hospital during a previous one-day strike in January - Credit: Archant

Junior doctors at Stevenage’s Lister Hospital say they are ‘shocked and devastated’ after the government decided to impose a new contact for their working hours and pay.

The Lister doctors took part in a second nationwide strike on Wednesday led by medics union the British Medical Association, in an attempt to force the government to reconsider a new contract which will mean they no longer get paid overtime for working Saturdays and week-day evenings.

Junior doctor Rowan Gossedge, who is a BMA representative at the Lister where he works as an anaesthetist, said: “We don’t even have a copy of this new contract.

“A lot of people are seriously considering whether they want to stay in the NHS.

“They are destroying the goodwill of junior doctors which the NHS relies on on many occasions.

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“It’s not over though. We’re going to completely review this new contract then people can make their own decisions about whether they are prepared to stay or leave the country or the profession.”

The new contract will give junior doctors an overall pay rise of 13 per cent and will reduce the number of hours they can legally work in a week from 91 to 72.

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But Dr Gessedge – who has been a trainee doctor for three-and-a-half years and also took part in the January 12 strike – says this won’t make a different as the large amount of overtime junior doctors do means it equates to about a third of their pay, and they will still work more than the legal number of hours rather than leave patients without adequate care.

He said: “It’s always been about safeguards not about pay. It’s about how we can operate safely after working such long hours.

“Hospital trusts used to get fined if they worked doctors too hard, but that won’t happen now so the safeguards that are in place are completely toothless.”

Dr Gossedge is planning to survey the 400 junior doctors at the Stevenage hospital to gather their views on the new contract.

He said the East and North Herts NHS Trust, which runs the Lister, has remained neutral in the dispute.

Introducing the new contract to parliament yesterday, health secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “Mr Speaker, our strong preference was for a negotiated solution. Our door remained open for three years, and we demonstrated time and again our willingness to negotiate with the BMA on the concerns that they raised.

“However, the definition of a negotiation is a discussion where both sides demonstrate flexibility and compromise on their original objectives, and the BMA ultimately proved unwilling to do this.”

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