Plans to force changes to doctors’ contracts will put patients at risk, warns Emma

October 30, 2015

151030 Junior Doctors PhotoEmma has joined Labour MPs in opposing the Government’s plans to impose new contracts on junior doctors. The Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said that he is prepared to force junior doctors to accept the new terms, which will redefine ‘normal’ working hours as being between 7am-10pm, Monday to Saturday.

The contracts will also remove the financial penalties for hospitals which force junior doctors to work outside of their contracted hours, a move which will result in more doctors facing pressure to work longer shifts. Labour MPs have warned that this could lead to more mistakes being made and patients being put at risk.

Extending the definition of normal working hours also hurts doctors who work regular weekend or night shifts. This will make it harder to attract staff, and make it harder to deliver the seven day NHS the Health Secretary claims to want.

The British Medical Association has warned that it may consider strike action, something that has only happened once in the last 40 years.

Labour MPs called a vote in the House of Commons on Wednesday to oppose the Government’s plans, but the Government used its majority in the House to defeat Labour’s motion.

Speaking after the debate, Emma said:

“The Tories are showing huge disrespect to doctors who already work nights and weekends to make our NHS the greatest health service in the world. But worse still, they are forcing through changes that will put patient safety at risk by forcing doctors to work longer hours and making it harder to recruit staff to work weekend shifts.

“Our NHS is facing what may be the biggest crisis of resources in its history. Doctors are working round the clock to keep services running as it is – now Jeremy Hunt is blaming them and telling them to work harder.

“Many young doctors are already moving abroad to countries like Australia. That doesn’t only mean we’re losing staff – the NHS spends millions each year training doctors, and all that taxpayers’ money is going to waste.

“The Health Secretary needs to stop blaming doctors and sit down at the negotiating table. That’s why I voted to support doctors in Parliament on Wednesday.”

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