#NHS #Contracts #Tories We’re fighting for patients, claim junior doctors in court challenge to #Hunt

We’re fighting for patients, claim junior doctors in court challenge to Hunt ~ ROSS LYDALL, LONDON EVENING STANDARD.

Junior doctors today urged the public to trust them with the future of the NHS as they prepared for a High Court showdown with Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

The Justice for Health campaign, formed by five London doctors, insists it is acting in the best interests of patients by seeking to block new contracts due to be im-posed from next month as part of the Government’s drive towards a “seven-day NHS”.



The legal action is backed by £300,000 in public donations raised by a crowdfunding appeal. The group, who say they have never been politically active before, spoke out today as a report from The King’s Fund revealed the unprecedented strain on the NHS.

It found:

  • Almost six million patients attended A&E between April and June.
  • 90 per cent of inpatient beds were occupied — above safe limits.
  • 3.8 million people were on a waiting list for treatment, the most for a decade.

A two-day High Court hearing will begin on September 19, after Mr Justice Green decided that concerns over the imposition of the junior doctors’ contract should be heard. Prior to forming Justice for Health, the medics — Ben White, Nadia Masood, Francesca Silman, Marie-Estella McVeigh and Amar Mashru — had never met.

Dr Masood, 35, an anaesthetist in north-west London, said: “Everyone was angry by themselves. Then we all decided to get angry together.

“Some patients might ask, ‘Why do we feel the need to step in?’ The answer is they are not being told the truth. The Government is not being honest about the risks. Trust us that we are telling you the truth.”

The court action is separate from the British Medical Association’s plan for a series of five-day strikes. The first, set for next week, was scrapped after hospital bosses said they had too little time to ensure patient safety.

Justice for Health says that, as many junior doctors already work seven days a week, extending five-day rotas over seven days without extra funding will leave “dangerous” gaps in medical cover. In court, they will claim that Mr Hunt is acting beyond his powers in seeking to impose the contract, and that the seven-day policy is irrational and unfunded.

Dr White said: “The Government’s painting it as this militant dispute. The only thing we are militant about is patient safety.”

In the Commons this week, Mr Hunt accepted the “majority of junior doctors” shared concerns over the contracts, including training schedules, impact on family life, rota gaps and lower pay for women medics.

He said changes were being funded from the “additional £10 billion” provided for the NHS by 2020. “We have committed to employ many more doctors to help to meet our commitment on seven-day services,” he said. “Our plans are not predicated on simply stretching the existing workforce or diluting weekday cover.”



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