Sunderland MP backs junior doctors in contracts dispute

File photo dated 05/07/13 of Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who could impose a new contract on junior doctors after union leaders failed to back the Government's "best and final" offer./Picture by: Neil Hall/PA Wire/Press Association Images
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who is imposing a new contract on junior doctors after union leaders, failed to back the Government’s “best and final” offer. Picture by: Neil Hall/PA Wire/Press Association Images.

A Wearside MP has slammed Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s decision to impose contracts on junior doctors.

Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West, said it was shocking to hear of the minister’s ultimatum in a long-running row with medics.

Mr Hunt has announced in Parliament that contracts would be imposed from August, after the final offer over a rise in pay for unsocial hours and basic wages was rejected by the British Medical Association.

Mrs Hodgson said: “With all the bad feeling between the Health Secretary and junior doctors, it is shocking to hear that Jeremy Hunt has decided to impose a contract on junior doctors after months of negotiations and recent strike action.

“Junior doctors – like all other health professionals – make a huge contribution to our society by working long hours, evenings and weekends to ensure we all receive the best quality of health care expected from the NHS.

“Labour have continually called for Jeremy Hunt to listen to the concerns of junior doctors and ensure there is a constructive dialogue between the two sides of the negotiations so that we have a world-class NHS that meets the health needs of our country.

“Instead, what we are seeing is Jeremy Hunt grinding junior doctors into the ground and putting the future of the profession, and our NHS, into jeopardy.”

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Dr Johann Malawana, the BMA Junior Doctor Committee Chair, said they would now “consider all options”, including industrial action, just hours after Mr Hunt’s announcement.

Dr Malawana said: “The Government wants to impose a flawed contract on a generation of junior doctors who have lost all trust in the Health Secretary.

“Our message to the Government is clear: junior doctors cannot and will not accept a contract that is bad for the future of patient care, the profession and the NHS as a whole.”

All graduate doctors and the majority of 55,000 current junior doctors will renew onto the new contract. The new contract will contain increased basic rates of pay, but will reduce what constitutes unsociable hours.

Junior doctors, who make up most of the medical staff working weekends, will be losing out on higher rates of pay.

A spokeswoman for County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust said: “The trust is not making a statement at the moment. We have prepared for strike action up to this point.”

Sandra Bessford, assistant to chairman and chief executive of the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Sir Leonard, The Chief Executive, is not here at present. He is the only person who may wish to comment.”

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