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From The Socialist newspaper, 12 October 2016

Where next for the BMA - is the junior doctors' dispute really all over?

Striking junior doctors, photo by Paul Mattsson

Striking junior doctors, photo by Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

Glenn Kelly, Socialist Party industrial department

Having called off the strike action and lost the court case, many will be wondering if it's all over for the junior doctors. Will they now be forced onto the new contracts with all that entails for their pay, working lives and the threat to NHS services?

Many junior doctors are angry over the calling off of the action and still want a fight.

Despite the news headlines saying that the game is up, the fact is the court case against the government has revealed a chink in their armour and now a new tactic for the junior doctors and their supporters has opened up.

It has been revealed that the foundation trusts can't be forced to implement the new contracts. There is already some talk that some won't in an attempt to placate their own doctors or to use it to try to poach doctors from other trusts to relieve the staffing shortages.

This has caused some panic in the government who have threatened trusts that if they refuse to impose the new contracts then they will cut the training grants for doctors.

However, what this reveals is that the trusts do have the power to ignore the government and if they are put under enough pressure they can be forced to give in.

This raises the prospect that local BMA junior doctors committees could now demand from their trust that they will not impose the new contract. If they won't give this assurance then local BMA branches could demand to be balloted for strike against their own trusts.

The junior doctors should be supported by local trade unions and trades councils. They could organise lobbies of the trust boards demanding that they don't impose the new contract.

The Labour Party says it doesn't support the imposition of the contract. If so then we should demand that Labour councils use their scrutiny powers over the local health services and demand they refuse to impose the new contracts - in fact Jeremy Corbyn should put that call out now.

If local BMA junior doctors, with the support of local trade unions, could force a retreat by one trust, this can give confidence to spread the action.

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In The Socialist 12 October 2016:


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