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From The Socialist newspaper, 25 November 2015

Save our NHS

Back doctors' strikes

Junior doctors and health workers march against attacks on unsocial hours pay, London, 17.10.2015, photo Sarah Wrack

Junior doctors and health workers march against attacks on unsocial hours pay, London, 17.10.2015, photo Sarah Wrack   (Click to enlarge)

ZoŽ Brunswick, medical student

Following a complete refusal to negotiate by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, junior doctors will stage their first ever full strike in December.

The ballot results show an overwhelming 98% of those balloted fully support a strike. With a 76% turnout, this amazing result really shows the anger present against the Tories' plans to destroy the National Health Service (NHS). It also shows that the government's attempt to further muzzle the trade unions by raising a strike ballot's voting threshold, can be beaten.

There has been overwhelming public support for the strike. One public poll reported a staggering 95% in favour of doctors taking industrial action and a petition in support of the strike reached almost 95,000 signatures. This result has come after a series of massive demonstrations up and down the country, with 20,000 people attending in London on 17 October.

Public support

An escalating series of strikes begins on 1 December at 8am with emergency care only (similar service to that provided on Christmas Day) for 24 hours. Following this, there are two further full walkouts planned from 8am to 5pm on 8 and 16 December.

The strength of feeling is immense; this is to be the first doctors' strike since 1975 and the first full walkout in NHS history. Already the FBU firefighters' union has written a letter in solidarity with the British Medical Association, stating that members will stand alongside junior doctors on picket lines.

Next

Now we need the other health unions to ballot and strike alongside the junior doctors. After all, over one million NHS workers have been hit with scandalous contract changes. Together we can demand fair pay and an end to the sell-off of the NHS.

A series of coordinated, escalating industrial actions carried out by all unions across the NHS could reverse the horrendous Tory cuts and save the NHS.


Minister and health boss insult strikers

Tory health minister Jeremy Hunt denigrated the junior doctors' action saying it threatens patient lives. NHS England boss Sir Bruce Keogh upped the ante by demanding, in the wake of the Paris attacks, that striking junior doctors would be available to respond "within one hour of a major incident being declared".

What an insult to people who have dedicated their lives to saving people and have always immediately responded to major emergencies; and who have ensured proper patient cover in hospitals during the planned strikes.

And what an insult from a government which intends to remove the safeguards on junior doctors working excessive hours; which has cut permanent nursing staff; and refuses to legally ensure minimum staffing levels on NHS hospital wards.

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

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In The Socialist 25 November 2015:


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