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Junior doctors plan to continue contract struggle
ZoŽ Brunswick, medical student and Manchester Socialist Party member
In a historic move, junior doctors have announced a new rolling programme of industrial action in their continued struggle against the imposition of a dangerous new contract.
Though an initial five-day strike, set to take place 12-16 September, has been called off, further five-day strikes in October, November and December are still set to take place.
Unless there is significant movement from the government, these must go ahead and be built for properly. This action will involve junior doctors' full withdrawal of labour from 8am to 5pm each day.
These strikes are the continuation of a year-long battle against the new contract being imposed by the government. After a decisive rejection by grassroots BMA members of the latest contract offer, this renewed fight is no longer seeking piecemeal alterations to the contract.
Instead, the BMA has entirely rejected the fundamental "cost neutral" basis of the contract, stating: "The government has failed to provide an answer to how it will plan, fund or staff increased services across seven days. Seven-day services cannot be delivered by contract change that is cost neutral."
Despite a £2.45 billion deficit in the NHS in 2015-16, this government is insisting on imposing a contract that seeks to stretch non-emergency services from five days to seven with no extra funding. The BMA will not accept this and adequate funding for the new contract is now a major demand.
The contract would disproportionately impact doctors who are women, carers, disabled or work a high number of unsocial hours. The BMA also demands an end to this blatant discrimination.
It is clear that this new contract is not only an attack on junior doctors, but on the NHS as a whole. The Socialist Party calls for coordinated action with other health unions against privatisation and cuts to the NHS. The Trade Union Congress should call a national demonstration in support of the doctors and in defence of the NHS.
In The Socialist 7 September 2016:
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