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Thousands to protest outside Parliament over NHS junior doctor contracts

Doctors who work anti-social hours will be paid less

Jon Stone
Thursday 01 October 2015 12:10 BST
Junior and student doctors demonstrating against new NHS contracts
Junior and student doctors demonstrating against new NHS contracts

Thousands of people are planning to attend a protest outside the Houses of Parliament against changes to NHS junior doctor contracts.

Doctors have threatened industrial action over the Government’s plans, which are likely to reduce pay rates for working anti-social hours on weekends and evenings.

The demonstration will gather in Parliament Square at 2pm on Saturday 17 October, with a Facebook event currently showing 7,000 people marked as attending.

Other medical professionals have left messages on the web page saying they would like to attend but cannot because of their anti-social hours.

The march, likely to be the most high-profile street action by doctors yet, follows a previous rally outside Downing Street on Monday of this week.

The British Medical Association’s junior doctor committee has warned that the contract changes, which change the definition of anti-social hours, will risk patient safety by stretching overworked and tired hospital doctors even further.

Doctors working on Saturdays and later into the evenings on weekdays will no longer be considered to be working anti-social hours under the Government’s proposals.

The BMA has announced that its junior doctor members will be balloted for strike action, with a surge of junior doctors having applied to join the organisation in recent days.

Alternatively, action short of a strike could involve refusing to do additional unpaid overtime that is usual for doctors, or refusing to fill out death certificates.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is pushing the new contract on doctors (Getty) (Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

On Wednesday talks between the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and junior doctors’ leaders at the British Medical Association broke up without any progress.

“Until the government is willing to give the BMA the concrete assurances we require we will continue with the action junior doctors are demanding,” said Dr Johann Malawana, chair of the BMA’s junior doctor committee.

The situation is thought to be causing an exodus of doctors from the UK, with more than 1,600 doctors having applied the paperwork require to work abroad in the space of just three days.

The Government has described the current arrangements as “outdated” and “unfair”.

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