Show Your Support for Portsmouth Junior Doctors Strike

Members of the public are invited to join junior doctors in Portsmouth as they go out on strike on Wednesday 10th February, following failed talks between doctors’ trade union, the BMA, and the Department of Health. By Sarah Cheverton.

Portsmouth junior doctors will join a national 24 hour strike, providing only emergency care from 8am on Wednesday 10th February. The strikes follows months of negotiations between the BMA and the government.

At the centre of the dispute is the government’s threat to impose a new contract on junior doctors making key changes to working hours and pay. The BMA state that the new contract would “remove safety measures that stop doctors working excessive hours”, and “threaten the quality of care patients receive”.

Results of the BMA’s ballot of 37,000 junior doctors, announced in November, found that over 99% voted in favour of industrial action short of a strike, and 98% in favour of full strike action. This was the first time doctors had shown support for strike action in 40 years.

Health Minister, Jeremy Hunt described the strike action as “very disappointing” in a letter to the British Medical Association last week, and insisted that the new working hours and pay arrangements are “for the benefit of the health service.”

The BMA released the following statement.

Despite the best efforts of our negotiating team, and hours of talks facilitated by Acas, we have not managed to reach agreement with NHS Employers and the Department of Health on the new junior doctors contract.

As a result, the industrial action we planned for 10 February will be going ahead. However, rather than the planned full walkout, the action will mirror that of 12 January. Junior doctors in England will be offering emergency care only for 24 hours from 8am on Wednesday 10 February to 8am Thursday 11 February.

Local residents are invited to support the strike by standing alongside Portsmouth junior doctors at the main entrance to QA Hospital from 8am on Wednesday.

Dr Veronika Wagner, a Portsmouth doctor and S&C contributor, is currently collecting accounts for the Great NHS Storybook,a collection of personal stories about Portsmouth residents’ experience of the NHS. She shared some of them with S&C ahead of Wednesday’s strike action.

  • Liz M from Cosham: I am hormone and thyroxine dependent Turners, my husband is insulin dependent diabetic. The NHS gave me 20 extra years with my dad, my friend has Crohn’s and relies on them. Without the NHS, with slower treatment and less funding none of our lives would be the same.

  • Mental Health Services here in Portsmouth and nationally pared beyond the bone. Have something like 48 beds for whole of city. [There are] less: Staff, Facilities, Resources and WORKERS. THIS IS WRONG!

  • My father received such wonderful care in QA where he passed away, sadly, but comfortably

Wednesday’s strike will take place during the TUC’s HeartUnions week of action against the Trade Union Bill, from 8th – 14th February. You can find information on the TUC’s week of action here and a Facebook event to support Wednesday’s strike here.

Photography by Sarah Sheldrake, with thanks to Wear Your NHS, a national campaign in solidarity with junior doctors.