Thousands of junior doctors are staging the first all-out strike in the history of the NHS after the Health Secretary made it clear a new contract will go ahead. Junior doctors from across our region will take part. But this time emergency care will be affected including A & E, urgent maternity services, resuscitation and mental health.
Junior doctors will strike from 8am to 5pm today and again on Wednesday. Picket lines are expected outside most of our hospitals including Southampton General. The Royal Berkshire and the Royal Sussex County Hospital. Campaigners will march through Brighton in support of those taking industrial action.
Jeremy Hunt appealed directly to medics on Monday not to withdraw emergency cover, which he said had particular risks for A&E departments, maternity and intensive care.Despite three days of letters back and forth and a phone call between Mr Hunt and the head of the BMA on Monday, no agreement on a way forward has been reached.
Mr Hunt said he was motivated by a desire to improve weekend services in the NHS and told MPs that "no trade union" had the right to veto a Government manifesto commitment to do so. He said the disruption over the next two days is "unprecedented" but the NHS has made "exhaustive efforts" to ensure patient safety.
The BMA has defended the walkout, repeating its stance that it would have called off the strike if Mr Hunt agreed to lift his threat to impose the contract.
Yesterday more than a dozen presidents of royal colleges and faculties urged David Cameron to step in "at the 11th hour" to break the stalemate.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said Mr Hunt should "back off ", adding: "We must stand up and defend the NHS."