Image courtesy of Dr Daniel Sommer @danielf90 on Twitter
Over 5000 junior doctors marched on Whitehall last night in protest at Department of Health plans to impose a new contract of employment. Earlier in the day, NHS Employers had cancelled their roadshow to discuss the proposals which was due to be held at the Methodist Central Hall on Westminster Square.
The roadshow was cancelled with just 5 hours notice, angering trainees who had rearranged their shifts to attend.
The crowd swelled to block traffic on Westminster and in front of the Department of Health with traffic forced to divert. Doctors took photos and videos of themselves chanting, “Patients should be safe,” and “where are you Jeremy,” and then tweeting them using the hashtag #juniordoctor and #juniorcontract.
— Tom Dolphin (@thomasdolphin) September 28, 2015
Trainees are livid about the new proposals which include plans to redefine normal social working hours up to 10 pm on Saturdays and the removal of financial penalties for NHS trusts that breach safeguards designed to prevent trainees working excessive hours.
Other plans include disadvantaging women who take maternity leave or those who take time out to do academic work by removing incremental pay.
Juniors also claim that the redefinition of a normal working week from 60 to 90 hours will compromise patient safety.
Doctors were already infuriated prior to the event when Danny Mortimer, NHE Employer’s Chief Executive, blocked orthopaedic registrar Ben Dean after he had tweeted a series of questions to Mortimer about the proposals.
Plans also included a removal of the supplement paid to GP trainees, a paycut of up to 30% although Health Minister Jeremy Hunt has since written to the RCGP to state that “there is no question of removing incentives to GP training.”
The BMA is now taking the unprecedented move of balloting juniors on whether or not to take industrial action. Appetite amongst trainees to sign the petition resulted in the BMA website crashing last weekend due to the volume of people trying to join the BMA online.
Juniors are now waiting to see what happens next after the newly elected BMA junior doctor chairman, Johann Malawana, an obstetric registrar, meets Hunt, a date for which is yet to be arranged.
NHS Employers had previously tweeted to trainees in advance of the now-cancelled roadshows, saying they were ‘a great opportunity to engage.’
Further protests are planned in Manchester tonight.
GPs wishing to support the juniors can follow them on Twitter using the hashtags or join them outside the Midland Hotel in Manchester City Centre tonight.