Hunt is Still Spinning Lies

[box] Rob Cleaver reports on Jeremy Hunt’s last minute attempts to avert strike action [/box]

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Last night, Jeremy Hunt offered junior doctors an apparent 11% pay rise in a last roll of the dice to avoid industrial action. However, it has since emerged that what appeared as a pay rise would actually amount to a 26% decrease in take home pay.

Hunt’s ongoing battle with junior doctors and the BMA over the new contract suggested by DDRB has led to breakdown in discussions and the subsequent threat of strike action by doctors up and down the country. This latest concession was seen as an attempt to avoid the bulk of the UK’s 45,000 strong junior doctor population from voting in favour of industrial action when the ballot opens on Thursday with current estimates suggesting that as many as 90% of those able to vote will vote in favour of a strike.

However, the 11% pay rise applies only to basic pay and, as a result of the Department of Health’s intention to remove the current banding pay structure, would actually result in a large number of junior doctors taking home up to 26% less than they do under the current contract. Hunt argues that doctors will maintain their current salaries by receiving money through the on-call supplement, out-of-hours premiums and flexible pay premie” which are set to replace the money that the current banding structure adds on top of the basic salary.

Many doctors have responded angrily on social media to the offer, using hashtags such as #nicespinHunt to make their grievances known. Many believe that this offer is a cynical move to try to sway the opinion of the public against the junior doctors using semantics and political spin so as to allow Hunt to precede as planned with his reform of the NHS unopposed. Others have pointed out that 11% is already less than the 15% that DDRB had suggested when the initial proposals were made.

 

Hunt has further aggravated staff by refusing to budge on issues that many believe are far more important than their pay. The issue of patient safety has long been the focus of the protest marches and the Health Secretary has done little to alleviate the concerns regarding how working longer hours leads to more mistakes being made which have a direct impact on patients. By changing the offer in regards to pay, many doctors are worried that this will convince the public that doctors main concerns over the new contract are about their pay rather than whether it is fair and safe.

The BMA insist that they have not yet seen the new proposals and that the ballot will take place as planned on Thursday and that initially a strike will involve junior doctors continuing to provide emergency services although further full strike action may still take place.

Despite further details being expected to be made public today, the opinion amongst many junior doctors and medical students alike is that the Health Secretary cannot be trusted and that strike action is the only real option to ensure long term safety for patients and doctors alike.

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