The British Medical Association (BMA) announced that it will strike a further three times on 9 March, 6 April and 26 April this time for 48 hours each and also intends to seek judicial review of Hunt’s decision to impose contracts upon junior doctors.
The strikes will not affect emergency care.
In the game of chess between the Department of Health (DH) and the BMA yesterday the BMA announced it wouldn’t accede to Jeremy Hunt’s demands. By announcing industrial action and the potential to challenge Hunt’s decisions through the courts the union appears confident in both the mandate from its members and the legality of its position.
If Hunt was to impose contracts in the manner that it is being suggested, on 1 August he would in one foul swoop be defying the very notion of collective bargaining upon which unions and contracts of employment are based. It is unfortunate that negotiations as to junior doctors’ contracts have continued for quite as long as they have (3 years) and the DH’s solution is to impose the contract unilaterally without agreement; the BMA wish to negotiate further. It is the typical rock and a hard place scenario and no side looks willing to blink.
The DH position is that the changes in junior doctor contract are necessary in order to bring the seven working day NHS to reality. They have also stated that the contract would reduce death rates at weekends in hospitals. The BMA dispute both issues and their legal challenge to judicially review the DH’s imposition of a junior contract is based on the failure of the Government to consider equality issues.
The debate continues.