Following scheduled walkouts across the county on Wednesday, and a protest outside Westminster on Thursday, the government continues to push for controversial changes to junior doctor’s contracts.
Junior doctors say Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s proposal for a seven-day NHS will put the safety of patients at risk while the government argues that this view is “irresponsible” and spreads “misinformation.”
In a previous interview with SR News Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West, said: “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.”
Jeff Townsend, Conservative party leader for Sunderland Central, has also called for dialogue while supporting the introduction of a seven-day contract: “Both sides need to show some humility, return to the table and find a way to deliver quality junior doctor contracts that bring more into the profession and therefore extra staff for a fully seven day NHS.”
Mr Townsend also showed support for the junior doctors, saying that: “They do exceptional work under incredible stress and often have to take that mental and emotional stress home with them. We should ensure that they are protected so we, the general public are protected. “Something has to give, I just hope that both sides return to the table before the thing that gives is public safety. “
However, he called the British Medical Association’s approach to the issue “disgraceful”, stating that the BMA is trying to “politicise its members against the Conservative Party” which resulted in the Government hardening its position.
“Whilst I think junior doctors are brilliant, the BMA is wrong to be injecting political messaging into the debate.”
He also said that there could be more that the government could be doing: “the Government should accept that as the senior partner in this negotiation it should show more willingness to engage; ultimately it can do what it likes but without trust the whole system is broken.
“We all want a successful, free at the point of entry NHS and along with porters, nurses, radiologists etc. Junior doctors make up the backbone of the NHS’ capability. If we look after them they should look after us.”