Dr Mehreen Ali believes unfair contracts will force talented trainees overseas
Junior doctors in their thousands have voted in favour of strikes as part of an on-going row with the government over contracts.
Members of The British Medical Association have decided to hold three days of strikes. The decision came after an overwhelming majority of doctors voted in favour of strikes, as part of a vote by the British Medical Association (BMA) which saw over 37,000 doctors participate.
The BMA said that over 76 per cent of doctors took part in the vote, which saw an outstanding 98 per cent vote in favour of strikes, with only 2 per cent voting against it.
Dr Mehreen Ali, a GP principal in Brierley Hill, has voiced her support for her junior colleagues. She warned that new contracts would leave doctors overtired and overworked, resulting in an increased likelihood of mistakes occurring, which would ultimately put patients in danger.
The GP also claimed that a number of talented young trainee doctors are already moving abroad to practice once they are qualified, and many more are likely to follow in their footsteps in search of better pay and more sociable working hours.
Mehreen, who has worked in the NHS for 11 years, said, “I would support my juniors in striking as a last resort.
“We seniors will hold the fort and deal with emergencies only.
“These changes to the contract are going to compromise patient care and safety and so the profession must act if the government will not negotiate.
“So far, they have not negotiated.
“The new contract removes the safeguards which prevent hospitals from overworking junior staff.
“We know that this is unsafe. Heavy goods drivers are told to take regular breaks to avoid accidents.
“I do not want my patients to be treated by overworked, overtired doctors.
“This will lead to mistakes and affect the quality of care they receive.”
Mehreen, who assisted in organising the protest outside the Bull Ring, also voiced her concerns that, should the new contracts be pushed through by the government, it could lead to demoralisation of the NHS and a recruitment crisis.
“Nobody wants to train to be a GP anymore,” she said.
“The threat of unsafe working weeks have led to fewer GP training posts being filled.
“Similarly, many trainees are leaving for Australia and Canada. My last four GP trainees qualified and left to work abroad.
“We have had two GP vacancies unanswered since February. How is the NHS going to function? The cracks are already starting to appear now.”
Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health, has condemned the decision to strike as ‘totally unwarranted’.
However, Unison general secretary Dave Prentis has said that morale in the NHS has been left on a ‘knife edge’.
But Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said that morale in the NHS was now on a ‘knife edge’.
He said: “Jeremy Hunt might think that cutting the extra cash that junior doctors and other NHS staff receive for working at night or weekends – when most other people are either sleeping or enjoying their leisure time – is no big deal.
“But pay austerity has meant that health workers rely on unsocial hours payments just to boost their shrinking salaries and make it through the month.
“The way the row with the junior doctors has escalated should show ministers that morale across the NHS is now on a knife-edge.
“It sends a clear message that staff will no longer tolerate the Government’s approach of making savings in the health service solely by withholding pay and cutting jobs.”