The second twenty-four-hour junior doctor’s strike started today which, in the build-up, has led to a mixed reaction from the British public. Some people argue that they are making a stand on changes to their contracts and the NHS as a whole, while others say that they are simply being greedy with money and are doing more damage to the NHS rather than aiding it.
So what are they protesting against? The uproar started when Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, claimed that junior doctors do not work at weekends and was going to introduce a contract which, while offering a pay rise, was going to cut pay for ‘unsociable’ hours by a quarter, would hire more doctors at weekends for lower pay and, according to the BBC, have “guaranteed pay increases linked to time in the job are also to be scrapped and replaced with a system linked to progression through set training stages.” This led to protests that this contract was unfair on junior doctors, would affect the NHS and would cause more risks to patients.
To get a viewpoint from someone who worked as a junior doctor I asked the opinion of Andrea Lascelles, 51, who, during the 1980s, trained and worked as a radiographer for the Royal London Hospital. When asked about her experiences working for the NHS, she said the students who she worked with “were all on low pay but made the NHS” due to their enthusiasm and that the on call system was where they “made the most money.”
Her opinion of the situation was that “nobody would strike if it wasn’t necessary” and added, “hours are too long. Training is a lengthy progress, young doctors need to be valued… (There are) little doctors and radiographers as nobody wants to do a job for little money.”
She also believes that the strikes will help to change the NHS for the better as it points out the problems in the system. “They’ve lost apprenticeship in the NHS, that’s what makes me sad…everyone’s training to be a manager rather than a person of care…that’s what’s ruining the NHS. They’ve been squeezing and squeezing and there’s nothing left to give.”