Jeremy Hunt refused the opportunity to avert strike action

Riskiest strike action in NHS history and Hunt turns down opportunity to cancel it!
Jeremy Hunt says delaying his new contract means it will take longer to eliminate the 'weekend effect'

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has rejected an 11th hour attempt to bring about an end to the NHS all-out junior doctors strike, describing the initiative a “Labour opportunism”.

Mr Hunt dismissed a letter from the shadow Health Secretary, Heidi Alexander, urging him to agree to trial the new junior doctors' contract rather than impose it across the NHS unilaterally.

The letter, which was also signed by two former heath ministers – including a Conservative - also said there should be an independent evaluation of the so-called "weekend effect" which sees higher mortality rates for patients admitted at weekends.

A BMA source said they supported the initiative and that if the Government agreed to limited trials of a pilot of the contract, representatives would be prepared to meet them to discuss the possibility of calling off the strike on Tuesday and Wednesday.

 The walkout would see all junior doctors, including Accident & Emergency staff, walk out – the first time such action has been taken in NHS history by doctors.

But Mr Hunt rejected the plan warning that “further delay” in introducing the contract “just means we will take longer to eliminate the weekend effect”.

Instead he put forward a counter-proposal to the BMA in a letter to the organisation’s chairman Mark Porter.

In it he said he was prepared to meet the BMA to discuss “workforce and funding requirements for seven-day services” as well as other issues outside the contract that have been of concern to junior doctors.
These include improvements in training, improving work-life balance and the burden of examination and training fees.

Hunt added "The extreme action planned will be deeply worrying for patients, and place enormous additional strain on our NHS at a time of intense pressure".

Posted on Monday Apr 25 to Monday Apr 25, 2016