Striking junior doctors reject ‘liar’ Hunt’s ‘scaremongering’, say world-class care continues

A demonstrator carries a placard during a protest in central London, Britain February 6, 2016. © Neil Hall / Reuters
Junior doctors are taking all-out strike action for the first time in the history of Britain’s National Health Service (NHS), branding Tory Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt a “liar” and a scaremonger.

The industrial action is taking place between 8am and 5pm local time on Tuesday and Wednesday unless a palatable settlement to the question of longer shifts and an effective pay cut for hard-pressed junior doctors is offered.

Junior doctors have been in an ongoing dispute with the government over an extension of weekend hours as part of Hunt’s seven-day-a-week NHS scheme. For his part, Hunt told Sky News on Tuesday he would not be “blackmailed” by the doctors.

Critics of the strike, including Hunt, say the cancelation of operations puts patients at risk. However, the consultants who are covering the doctors for the duration of the strike said in an open letter on Tuesday that “juniors can take this action with the complete confidence that their patients are safe.

Hunt also told Sky that Tuesday’s action, which was mandated by an overwhelming democratic vote by members of the British Medical Association (BMA), would “withdraw emergency care.

This is not a view shared by the junior doctors or the consultants who will cover them. One consultant told the Press Association the public is guaranteed “world-class emergency care” throughout the strike.

On the picket lines, junior doctors told Press Association reporters that Hunt’s plan to impose the new contract on staff is “unfair and unsafe” and a recipe for “underpaid and over-stressed” doctors.

John Moore, a striker in Newcastle, said Hunt had “completely lost the trust of an entire profession.

He’s misused statistics, he’s outright lied, he’s worried the public into not attending the NHS when they need to, and I think he should resign,” Moore added.

Other commentators say Hunt is looking for his own ‘Thatcher v The Miners’ moment.

Unite the Union’s National Health Officer Barrie Brown damned Hunt’s “squalid demonization” of Britain’s young healthcare professionals.

These are the same sordid tactics that Margaret Thatcher employed against the miners in the 1980s and should be strongly deplored,” he told the Morning Star.

An Ipsos Mori poll carried out for the BBC indicates up to 57 percent of the public back the strikers.

We’re seeing today that support for the junior doctors is still prevalent among much of the public, even when emergency care is withheld,” head of health research at the polling firm Anna Quigley said in a statement on Tuesday.