The changes to contracts for junior doctors which have led to strike action do not apply in Scotland, as the NHS is devolved and the Scottish Government has taken a different approach.
Nevertheless, many constituents have expressed concern about the new pay&conditions being imposed on junior doctors by the UK Government, and some doctors here may be directly impacted if they do some or all of their training in other parts of the UK.
The fact that these dedicated medical professionals have felt no option remained but to go on strike – with the full support of their consultants – shows the wrong-headed approach taken by the UK Government to the contract negotiations and their refusal to listen to the genuine concerns of NHS staff.
The contract being imposed is unacceptable for a number of reasons. Firstly, it waters down important safeguards for patient safety – removing protections against dangerously long shifts. Nobody wants a burnt-out doctor. It also significantly damages working conditions – cutting breaks and cutting pay for unsociable working hours - for people who are already feeling the strain. Thirdly, the new contract could lead to more experienced trainees being stuck for longer on a lower pay grade – financially punishing, for example, those who choose to go back to work part-time after starting a family.
While there are real challenges faced by the NHS, the issues will not be resolved by demoralising our medical professionals.
The Scottish Government has absolutely no intention of imposing these unsafe and unfair conditions on junior doctors, and has made clear it will maintain the current contract and take a more positive approach towards negotiations for any future contract, working with the BMA and NHS staff. You can read more on the position in Scotland from the BMAs website: http://www.bma.org.uk/news-views-analysis/news/2015/august/contract-will-not-be-imposed-on-junior-doctors-in-scotland.
Scottish Health Secretary Shona Robison has called for her UK counterpart to rethink their approach and work more in partnership with NHS staff to improve services (see news release here: http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/Robison-urges-UK-Government-rethink-on-junior-doctors-1f45.aspx).
At Westminster, the SNP stands in solidarity with junior doctors. I added my name to the following Early Day Motion (as amended) to show my support in parliament. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2015-16/539 )
The SNP Westminster group's Health spokesperson, Dr Philippa Whitford MP, is a former surgeon who has been a strong voice in support of junior doctors – you can read her latest comments on the strike action here: http://www.thenational.scot/comment/philippa-whitford-strike-by-english-junior-doctors-is-the-inevitable-result-of-jeremy-hunts-attacks-on-the-profession.12218
We will continue to monitor the situation and offer our support.
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