The health secretary told parliament that he would impose the revised terms and conditions on junior doctors in August – making Saturday part of their core hours – after two months of negotiations failed to end the long-running and bitter dispute.
Hunt told MPs: “Following the election, which the government won with a clear manifesto commitment to a seven-day NHS, the BMA junior doctors committee refused point blank to discuss reforms, instead choosing to ballot for industrial action. Talks did finally start with the Acas process in November but since then we have had two damaging strikes, with around 6,000 operations cancelled.”
His move sparked a fresh wave of anger among the 45,000 junior doctors in England who will be affected, and warnings that his decision will exacerbate the NHS’s already serious shortages of medics in key areas of care with doctors choosing to head to Scotland or Wales, overseas or quit the profession altogether.
The British Medical Association vowed to continue fighting the contract and would “consider all options open to us”, which could include an all-out strike affecting emergency care. Doctors held impromptu demonstrations on Thursday evening outside the Department of Health headquarters in London, and in Manchester.
#Jeremy Hunt has provoked a fierce row with the medical profession after taking the high-risk decision to impose the controversial new contract on junior doctors, many of whom responded by threatening to quit the NHS.