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Leader thanks GPs for their support during strike action

BMA says profession is united following strike action

Adrian O'Dowd

Friday, 24 June 2016

Junior doctors’ leaders have thanked GPs and all the various branches of medicine that supported their colleagues in the recent dispute with the government.

Speaking yesterday at the BMA’s annual conference in Belfast, Dr Johann Malawana (pictured), chair of the BMA junior doctors committee, used his keynote speech to underline how united the profession was, despite recent disruption and industrial action.

Several days of industrial action have taken place this year including 48-hour emergency care only action and a full two-day strike by doctors in April, prompted by the dispute between the BMA and the government over its intention to impose a new contract on junior doctors from August.

Junior doctor members of the BMA are currently being balloted on whether or not to accept a new contract, approved by both sides, with the result expected on 6 July.

Speaking on the last day of the BMA’s annual conference, Dr Malawana said: “Industrial action was our last resort. At every picket line, I saw junior doctors speak up with energy and eloquence in defence of patient care. I saw doctors who may have only been qualified a few months, but were already taking on the mantle of leadership.

“We achieved this with the unity of the whole profession. To every single SAS doctor, consultant, GP, medical student, nurse and patient who stood by us, covered for us, spoke up for us this year, thank you. And thank you to those outside England, who could see the dire impact of the plans on the whole NHS.”

This had been a year when the profession had been “put to the test” as he said: “Our motives, our determination and our unity, all placed under the harshest possible spotlight.

“When we were faced with those completely unacceptable proposals that would have failed to protect us from unsafe hours, failed to stem the recruitment crisis, failed a generation of doctors raising their concerns, we had no choice but to take action.

“We were strong enough to make the government listen, to withdraw one red line after another, and to win for our members a number of significant improvements on those original plans.”

The BMA had been travelling around England to explain the detail of the contract offer to members and to listen to concerns, he said, mentioning that the junior doctors committee had visited more than 130 hospitals in the past two weeks.

“It’s now time to vote, and I urge all eligible junior doctors and medical students to do so. I know our members hold different views, but what I think is beyond argument is that we are only in a position to have anything to offer them because we stood up, together, for what we believe in.”

Dr Malawana appealed to the profession to remain united, saying: “Junior doctors, their morale threatened, motives questioned, their futures in doubt – they didn’t give up, they did the opposite.

“Instead of a generation ground down, we saw a generation stand up for patient care. Our unity must be maintained.”

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