Chesterfield doctors say contract changes would put patients at risk

Chesterfield Royal Hospital, Calow  'Main Entrance

Chesterfield Royal Hospital, Calow 'Main Entrance

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Junior doctors at Chesterfield Royal Hospital say they are being forced to strike tomorrow to protect patient safety at the trust in the future.

Dr Mohita Damany, who works at Chesterfield Royal and is a BMA representative, said that if planned alterations to contracts being forced through by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt get the green light, it will be unfair for doctors and potentially dangerous for patients.

She said: “This proposed contract is not safe and the reason for the strike is to ensure that all future contracts for doctors working in the NHS are safe for patients.

“We have taken this decision as a last resort because this is just the beginning.

“At this point it will only impact on junior doctors but in the future it will be rolled out to consultants and more senior staff.

“It is not fair for the doctors and it is not safe for patients.”

The BMA and health officials have been locked in talks with conciliation service Acas since Thursday, with behind the scene discussions running over the weekend in a frantic bid to make progress.

But a 24-hour hour strike is due to start at 8am on Tuesday

Striking doctors are also expected to form picket lines outside Chesterfield Royal Hospital tomorrow morning.

Doctors are set to take action on three days over pay and working conditions, providing emergency-only care for 24 hours from 8am on Tuesday.

This will be followed by full strikes from 8am to 5pm on December 8 and 16, with Army medics poised to be drafted in to provide cover if the stoppages go ahead.

The planned industrial action is being backed by Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins.

He said: “The way the Government has handled this has been appalling and we do need to listen to what the junior doctors are saying.

“We don’t want to see a return to the situation in the 1970s and 1980s when people were being forced to work all hours.”

The trust said that about 100 outpatient appointment have been affected in total across medical and surgical departments, along with 17 elective procedures which have been rescheduled by the surgical division.

There have been no cancellations in women’s and children’s procedures.

Ministers drew up plans to change the contract of junior doctors in 2012, but talks broke down last year. Government health bosses plan to impose the new contract next year in England.

The plans include an 11 per cent rise in basic pay for doctors,

However, guaranteed pay increases linked to time in the job are being scrapped and replaced with a system linked to progression through set training stages.

The BMA has argued that people who take time out to have a baby will be unfairly penalised against.

The Government also plans to cut the number of hours during the working week that are classed as unsociable, which the BMA says has an impact on doctors pay.