Health

48 hour junior doctors strike begins

Junior doctors protesting outside St Thomas' Hospital, London (Image: Emma Roberts)

Junior doctors protesting outside St Thomas’ Hospital, London (Image: Emma Roberts)

For the first time in the history of the NHS, an all-out junior doctors strike is underway.

This is the fourth time this year that junior doctors have gone on strike, but it is the first time that staffing of emergency care will be affected.

It’s anticipated that the withdrawal of emergency cover will have the biggest impact on A&E, intensive care, and maternity units.

Emma Roberts reports from the picket line at Guy’s Hospital, London Bridge:

Consultants and specialists from other departments are being drafted in to cover the doctors on strike.

Despite this, the NHS is still encouraging people to stay away from A&E departments in England, unless it is a genuine emergency.

An Ipsos MORI poll for BBC News showed today that public support for the junior doctors strike has dwindled slightly since emergency cover was withdrawn.

57% said that they supported the strikes, which is down from 65% in March.

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Junior doctor, Dr Kerry Anderson, explained to Emma Roberts that there would be the same amount of staff on strike days as on any public holiday:

Traders at Borough Market illustrate why public support has decreased:

Dr Paul Robinson, demonstrating outside St Thomas’ Hospital, speaks about the strong public support for junior doctors that he has witnessed:

Dr Kerry Anderson explained how the decision whether to strike or not has not been an easy one for many junior doctors.

Dr Anderson, like many of her colleagues, feels conflicted, and as a result she voted against strike action despite being fully against the new contracts:

A group of London medical students are using the strike day to teach members of the public valuable skills.

Fourth year medical student, Andrew Baegy, explains what they are doing and the motivation behind it:

Why are junior doctors striking?

Junior doctors are on strike against fundamental changes to their contracts.

Although the Government is saying basic pay will increase by 13.5%, the definition of unsociable hours will change.

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Dr Natalie Heeney explains from the picket line at Guy’s Hospital, what this actually means and why so many junior doctors are fighting against the changes:

The Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, argues that a new contract is needed to improve care in hospitals over weekends.

Mr Hunt has sited research published in the British Medical Journal, that shows patients are more likely to die if they are admitted on a Saturday or a Sunday, as motivation for the changes.

Many doctors have rejected these suggestions, claiming that most of these deaths could be avoided with increased staffing and access to senior doctors rather than junior doctors.

The Health Secretary agrues that the decision to withdraw emergency cover is disproportionate to the changes being made:

Many junior doctors feel this row goes beyond the changes to their contracts; they see this as a huge step towards the privatisation of the NHS.

Dr Paul Robinson, a junior doctor specialising in emergency care, explains why the strike is much more than an argument over pay:

The strike will continue until 5pm on Wednesday, April 27.

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