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Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/22184

Posted on 10 February 2016 at 12:32 GMT

Video: A junior doctor in East London explains why they have been forced to go on strike.

Doctors' strike 10th February - photos and reports


St Thomas', South London

St Thomas' hospital: Big support from passing traffic on Westminster Bridge especially bus drivers , photo Paula Mitchell

St Thomas' hospital: Big support from passing traffic on Westminster Bridge especially bus drivers , photo Paula Mitchell   (Click to enlarge)

Dennis Skinner MP visiting the picket line:

Dennis Skinner MP visiting the picket line at St Thomas', photo by Bill Mullins

Dennis Skinner MP visiting the picket line at St Thomas', photo by Bill Mullins   (Click to enlarge)

Salisbury

Picket at Salisbury hospital, 10.2.16, photo by Jane Ward

Picket at Salisbury hospital, 10.2.16, photo by Jane Ward   (Click to enlarge)


The junior doctors on the picket line outside Salisbury hospital expressed their disappointment and frustration with the government. One doctor said: "There's no conversation and no compromise".
They were pleased with the overwhelming support they had received from the public but the government was not representing public opinion and was ignoring patient support.
They felt that patient safety was being ignored and said that 'tired doctors mean more people will die and that's why we are here!'

Jane Ward


Waltham Forest Socialist Students (NE London) show solidarity with the junior doctors' strike and nurses' walkout:

WF Socialist Students show solidarity with doctors' strike & nurses walkout , photo by Helen Pattison

WF Socialist Students show solidarity with doctors' strike & nurses walkout , photo by Helen Pattison   (Click to enlarge)

Chesterfield

Doctors' picket in Chesterfield, 10.2.16, photo by Elaine Evans

Doctors' picket in Chesterfield, 10.2.16, photo by Elaine Evans   (Click to enlarge)

Massive support for the junior doctors' strike at Chesterfield Royal Hospital was shown by the many members of the public sounding their car horns.

The junior doctors do not want to strike but are being forced to by the government. They believe the government plans will not only endanger patient safety and doctors' health, but the next generation of doctors and the NHS itself.

Elaine Evans

Kings College and Maudsley

Kings College Hospital picket, doctors' strike. 10.2.16, photo by H Pattison

Kings College Hospital picket, doctors' strike. 10.2.16, photo by H Pattison   (Click to enlarge)

Kings College and Maudsley hospitals both had big picket lines. These hospitals are over the road from each other and there was friendly rivalry to make noise and get cars to honk support.

Consultants dropped off cookies in solidarity with the junior doctors. Around 40 student nurses and midwives joined the protest at 10am and there was time for short speeches before the rain really started.

Helen Pattison

Junior doctors demonstrating in London on 6.2.16, photo Paul Mattsson

Junior doctors demonstrating in London on 6.2.16, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)


Royal Stoke

Junior doctors on the picket line today at the Royal Stoke University Hospital were in a defiant mood. Their confidence has grown since the last strike in January. At times the noise made by them and their supporters with singing and klaxons was so loud that even the horns of passing cars could not be heard!

There were more doctors picketing this time than in January. After an hour or so about 20 of them went to set up a second picket on another entrance. A firefighter in uniform turned up to the picket with cakes and a message of support, and tea and coffee was brought out of the hospital by other NHS staff.

The intransigent approach by 'health' minister Jeremy Hunt has angered not just junior doctors but the vast majority of NHS staff and millions across the country as well.

Cait, who had come to support the doctors, told us: "This is the first time I've been on a picket line since the miners' strike but I had to come along to show my support."

Joe Cairnes, an ex-miner who did 12 months on strike in 1984-85, had not come alone to show support but brought his whole family as well!

Socialist Party members from Stoke and Stafford branches were also there to show support. We did campaign stalls in support of the doctors last Friday and Monday and are doing another later today.

Andy Bentley

Leicester

Leicester Glenfield Hospital doctors' picket 10.2.16, photo by Steve Score

Leicester Glenfield Hospital doctors' picket 10.2.16, photo by Steve Score   (Click to enlarge)

Picket lines took place at all three main hospitals in Leicester, as well as a 'meet the doctors' event in the city centre. Doctors were keen to explain their stand to the public. Picket lines on the main roads got constant beeps of support from passing vehicles.

One doctor explained: "It's not about us wanting more money, it's about defending the NHS. Of course we work weekends and we support improving the health service, including emergency provision at weekends.

"But the government does want to cut doctors' pay. If not, why all the talk of 'pay protection'? Resources are already short, and if the government wants to put more doctor time into weekends for elective surgery for example, it will come from during the week.

"Unless you employ more doctors the service will become more stretched. On the other hand they are also removing protection against doctors working excessive hours.

"What the government wants is to privatise the NHS. This is part of preparing for that. I don't want to have to check people's bank cards before we care for them."

In Leicester the failure of privatisation has been highlighted by the early ditching of the contract Interserve has for cleaning and catering. Because of cuts to staff levels with a reliance on low paid and insecure staff the service provided by this company has been so bad it has had to be taken off them. Blood was left on ward floors, cleaning was totally unacceptable. Patients were left without food and sometimes given meals past their use by date.

It's good these services are coming back in-house, but we need to be vigilant because the management may try to privatise them again at the first opportunity.

Socialist Students in Leicester has been supporting the doctors too. They held a very successful meeting at Leicester university in support of the NHS, two days before the latest strike.

Jeanna Strutinsky-Mason, a junior doctor, explained their case alongside Socialist Party member Matt Whale, a student nurse.

Steve Score

Gateshead

Picket line at Gateshead's Queen Elizabeth Hospital , photo by Elaine Brunskill

Picket line at Gateshead's Queen Elizabeth Hospital , photo by Elaine Brunskill   (Click to enlarge)

Junior doctors on the picket line at Gateshead's Queen Elizabeth Hospital had a fantastic public response. Alongside buses and cars tooting, people were eager to express their support. Two elderly women made a point of crossing the road to show their contempt for Cameron and his government, saying: "It's okay for them, they can afford private health care."

The mood on the picket line was a determination to take on health secretary Jeremy Hunt. Even more than the first one this strike was clearly not just about pay and conditions, but also about ensuring we have a well funded NHS.

There was also recognition that the NHS should provide free dental care and free prescriptions. One of the doctors commented that some of her peers training to be doctors couldn't afford to go to the dentist.

Elaine Brunskill

Hackney, London

Picketing Homerton hospital, 10.2.16, photo by Claire Laker Mansfield

Picketing Homerton hospital, 10.2.16, photo by Claire Laker Mansfield   (Click to enlarge)

Clare Doyle interviewed Dr Hugh Grant-Peterkin, an assistant registrar, on the picket line at Homerton Hospital:

"I feel frustrated at how we are being portrayed as 'endangering the NHS', we are trying to protect it. Also, media outlets (including Radio 4 this morning) and the government are trying to say this is only about money, strikes are always about pay and conditions but we are also engaged in a battle to protect the NHS as a whole.

"The plans they have for reclassifying Saturday as 'plain time' and other matters related to pay and conditions will degrade services. The government wants more services for the same or less money. Also the changes have a particularly negative impact on people taking maternity leave and academics.

"They say to us that people working in retail have to work all hours at the same rate, but we don't want this to be a race to the bottom. That's what the government wants. I have no doubt MPs would protest if they were forced to work longer and weekend hours for worse pay and conditions.

"This strike is not about demanding more money, it was agreed as 'pay neutral' at the start; besides, we would want other workers to get paid properly, not drag everyone down! The government has been able to offer 70k with no 'on-call' to doctors to assess people for whether they deserve benefits, there is money to pay for those jobs.

"I believe that these strikes are a way of highlighting what the government is doing to the NHS. I have said it before: this form of capitalism is broken, the relentless hunger for new markets and perpetual growth means there is a need to push privatisation into all areas, irrespective of the evidence to support it.

"Alongside this need for new markets the government appears ideologically opposed to what remains of the welfare state and the provision of care to the most vulnerable. They are dismantling our services but it is not theirs to sell.

"We've got great support from the public and I feel really heartened by the public response, who see us as defending the NHS and see this strike in a wider political context."


Royal Free, London

Picket at Royal Free, 10.2.16, photo by C Newby

Picket at Royal Free, 10.2.16, photo by C Newby   (Click to enlarge)

There was again a very determined mood amongst junior doctors on the picket line at Royal Free Hospital in north London. At times there was a constant barrage of hooting from passing drivers including bus drivers and local council workers. There was overwhelming support from people going into the hospital with the doctors being told to keep up the fight.

One of the doctors was angry that Jeremy Hunt was telling the junior doctors that he knew better than the doctors (who spend the whole of their time treating and caring for patients) what was in the best interests of the patients.

Chris Newby

Manchester

Doctors and supporters were out again in force at Manchester Royal Infirmary this morning. Confident that they are winning the 'propaganda war' with overwhelming support of the public, doctors were discussing what should happen next.

If the contract is imposed, how could they organise a mass refusal to sign it? How can the action be escalated? There was universal support for the Socialist Party's demand for coordinated trade union action.

The picket lines were buoyed up by a lively march of student nurses and other students around the hospital, including stopping traffic whilst chanting "students and doctors, unite and fight!".

Becci Heagney

Bristol

Junior doctors were out in force today in Bristol with several pickets throughout the city. They were determined to keep fighting for their terms and conditions and to defend the NHS despite the Tories' threats to impose a new contract.

Public support was unwavering too; my conversations with doctors were punctuated by the frequent honking of car horns in support. Despite all the lies and misinformation put out by Jeremy Hunt and the government, people can see what's at stake here. It's the future of the NHS and that's something people trust to life-saving doctors far more the pro-privatisation Tories.

Tom Baldwin

Birmingham

Outside Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, 10.2.16, photo by K Greenway

Outside Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, 10.2.16, photo by K Greenway   (Click to enlarge)

Numbers outside the Queen Elizabeth hospital varied this morning, with up to 100 attending at the peak. Patients and families arriving were overwhelmingly supportive, taking leaflets and stickers. One man walked through in good humour, leaving with stickers all over him.

There was much discussion about whether Jeremy Hunt would move to impose the new contract and what steps the BMA should take if he does. Strikers welcomed passing traffic hooting their solidarity. A group of Birmingham university students also turned out to back the strikers.

Kevin Greenway

Wormwood Scrubs POA members join BMA picket line at Hammersmith hospital:

Wormwood Scrubs POA members join BMA picket line at Hammersmith hospital, photo by Matthew Clarke

Wormwood Scrubs POA members join BMA picket line at Hammersmith hospital, photo by Matthew Clarke   (Click to enlarge)




Basildon

Morale seemed very high at the Basildon hospital BMA picket line today. While trying to get my head round the sight of a bunch of doctors in their hi-viz picket jackets, exiled to the edge of the hospital's property on a busy roundabout, I spoke to some of the pickets.

They stressed that the dispute is not about pay, but safe working conditions. "We are standing up for the NHS", said an Italian doctor, "many of us come from other countries to work in the NHS because we believe in socialised medicine".

Speaking to another doctor I asked what was likely to happen if the government just pressed ahead and imposed the new system. "We have plans", he said. Remember Mr Hunt, your (political) life is in their hands.

Dave Murray

Carlisle

Picket at Cumberland Infirmary, Carlisle, 10.2.16,  photo by Brent Kennedy

Picket at Cumberland Infirmary, Carlisle, 10.2.16, photo by Brent Kennedy   (Click to enlarge)

Tooting, South West London

There was a warm welcome from BMA members picketing at Springfield Hospital in Tooting, which is a mental health hospital. Pickets recognised that the proposed contractual changes are about making the health service more attractive for privatisation.

There was particular anger about the prospect of working longer hours in an intensely demanding situation. There was also still excitement about the difference that Jeremy Corbyn might make.

David Maples

Tower Hamlets, London

Picketers and supporters at the Royal London hospital, 10.2.16, photo by Naomi Byron

Picketers and supporters at the Royal London hospital, 10.2.16, photo by Naomi Byron   (Click to enlarge)

Anaesthetists, paediatricians and student nurses were among the doctors and supporters gathered for the second day of strike action at the Royal London Hospital. Strikers were keen to discuss the dispute, and got a huge amount of support from the public and other workers going into the hospital.

Vishnu Param, BMA Junior Doctor Rep Barts Health, said: "We're really frustrated as we don't want to strike. We doing this because we feel we have a response to whistleblow on something that could seriously worsen patient care. A compromise on the contract was directly blocked by Hunt. The main response we've had from the government is scaremongering to score political points.

"It looks like either they want to push through privatisation, or they have totally misunderstood all the research. As clinical staff we're already on our knees and the new contract would be so damaging to patients. We'd love to make the NHS better but to do that we need more resources. Increasing the amount of services offered without more resources to fund them is very destabilising."

Naomi Byron

Nottingham

Picket at Queens Medical Centre, Nottingham

Picket at Queens Medical Centre, Nottingham   (Click to enlarge)

Junior doctor Helen Powell at Queens Medical Centre told the Socialist:
"Junior doctors have been picked on by the government because it thought they would be the easiest target. These new contracts are the thin end of the wedge. I'm sure the government will seek to bring in routine seven-day working for all health staff if they beat us."

Wirral

Junior doctors' picket at Arrowe Park hospital on the Wirral. Feb 2016, photo by Roy Corke

Junior doctors' picket at Arrowe Park hospital on the Wirral. Feb 2016, photo by Roy Corke   (Click to enlarge)

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This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 10 February 2016 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.

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