Syed Abbas and Anisha Selvin
Junior doctors from all across the country rallied today against the contract imposed on them by the government, saying their conditions are unfair on them and unsafe for patients. At the Whittington Hospital in Archway, crowds of junior doctors help placards outside the main entrance, and handed out leaflets to patients and passers-by.
Despite efforts by the British Medical Association to prevent the strike, junior doctors have not been able to sit and negotiate at the table with the Department of Health. Doctors told the Holloway Express they regretted having to strike today.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt called today a “bleak, bleak day” and said: “Junior doctors are ‘responsible’ for any deaths caused by the all-out strike. The people who are responsible are the people who have chosen to strike.”
Patients from all departments at Whittington are being well looked after despite the on-going strike, strikers said, although this is the first time a strike has affected not only A&E but also maternity and intensive care services. Whittington Hospital had faced an emergency situation earlier today, however, as there were no junior doctors to help. Senior doctors and consultants were at the scene ready to assist.
More senior doctors attended today than they would usually attend an emergency on an average Tuesday. There were so many of them in attendance, the hospital said, that half had to leave.
Nick Mannering, 37, an A&E Registrar, said: “We believe that this contract is unsafe and that’s going to be stretching doctors who are already struggling to plug the gaps and to fund this service. Unfortunately, Jeremy Hunt has been refusing to negotiate with us about the contracts and we’ve now had to resort to coming out and withdrawing emergency care for this strike because of their refusal to listen to us.”
Mary McNamara, 72, a pensioner from Crouch End said: “I am here at the Whittington Hospital as an in-patient. I am going home this afternoon. I am at the front and there are quite a lot of junior doctors on strike and I am with them all the way.
“They work really hard, do long hours and I feel they are not paid enough money. Please Mr. Cameron, listen to them and don’t waste any money on MP’s and give it to the doctors and nurses who deserve it.”
Junior doctors from the Whittington braved the elements today, which was unusually windy. There was even a brief freak snowfall during the afternoon. Despite the harsh conditions, they refused to go home and continued striking well into the afternoon.
They are hopeful that the strike will have a positive outcome and any further strikes can be prevented from happening in future. The walkout, which began at 8am this morning, will end at 5pm.