Rt. Hon Joan Ryan MP, Labour’s Member of Parliament for Enfield North, has condemned the Government for seeking to implement changes to the junior doctors’ contract which she believes “are unfair on doctors and pose significant risks to patients, both in Enfield and across the country.”
Speaking during an Opposition Day debate called by Labour in Parliament, on Wednesday 28th October, Ms Ryan called on the Government to address the concerns raised by doctors in Enfield who had contacted her about how the proposed changes would affect their pay, working conditions and patient safety. The current plans would remove the safeguards that penalise hospitals who routinely force junior doctors to work in excess of their contracted hours and cut pay for those doctors currently working evenings and weekends, putting the delivery of a 7-day NHS at risk.
Raising the concerns of her constituents with the Secretary of State for Health, Ms Ryan said a local doctor – who wished not to be named - had been in touch to say many of her colleagues were discussing alternative career plans and considering a move abroad to practice in another country. “I am gravely concerned that if these changes go through they will signify the start of the dismantlement of the NHS”, the doctor said. Ms Ryan also highlighted the views of Enfield North resident and Conservative voter, Dr. Irene Gafson, who – writing an insightful article in the Daily Telegraph – had said “people who have invested years of passion into their work are feeling demoralised […] I trusted [the Conservatives] with the NHS and I feel let down. I actually feel embarrassed.”
The Opposition motion urged the Government to guarantee that no junior doctor will have their pay cut as a result of a new contract, withdraw the threat of contract imposition and return to negotiations with the British Medical Association (BMA) – the organisation representing junior doctors. The Government voted against the Opposition’s motion and it did not pass.
Rt. Hon Joan Ryan MP said:
“Junior doctors are the lifeblood of the NHS and the Government’s handling of the junior doctors’ contract has caused unnecessary anger across the country. It is now a real threat to the recruitment and retention of NHS staff.
I urge the Secretary of State to stop his continued and unwarranted attacks on the BMA and to get back to the negotiating table and offer a deal that is fair to doctors and safe for patients in the context of talks without preconditions.”