I know how strongly junior doctors in Norwich and elsewhere feel about this issue – and the concern across the country at the way the Government have handled this and the future of our NHS in general.
The Government's unnecessarily confrontational approach to clinical professionals, among public sector workers in general, has caused unnecessary stress and anger. As with other such disputes, I strongly believe that the government should work with the unions that represent the workforce to find a fair agreement.
Junior doctors are vital to the provision of public healthcare and rather than being a barrier to a seven-day NHS with improved patient care, it is only be working with them and other clinical professions that we can improve NHS services. we need to ensure that the staff we rely on are supported and valued.
It is alarming that the BMA have said that the proposed contract is not just unfair but unsafe. Similarly, the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health warn that it could 'adversely affect recruitment, retention and the morale' of junior doctors. The Government should be addressing the real problems our NHS is currently facing, rather than punishing staff for the consequences of their policies.
That is why I supported the Opposition's motion (below) on 28th October, which urged the Government to guarantee that no junior doctor will have their pay cut as a result of a new contract; and called on the Government to put forward new proposals which are both safe for patients and fair for staff, and return to negotiations as soon as possible.
"That this House notes the stalled discussions between Government and the British Medical Association (BMA) about a new junior doctor contract; opposes the removal of financial penalties from hospitals which protect staff from working excessive hours; urges the Government to guarantee that no junior doctor will have their pay cut as a result of a new contract and calls upon Government to withdraw the threat of contract imposition, put forward proposals which are safe for patients and fair for junior doctors and return to negotiations with the BMA."
In the meantime, I will continue to press the Government and support every effort on behalf of you and the other junior doctors who are affected.