Public overwhelmingly blame Jeremy Hunt for junior doctors' strike, poll finds

Support for the strike also remains strong

Jon Stone
Wednesday 10 February 2016 10:29 GMT
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has been criticised by doctors
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has been criticised by doctors

The public overwhelmingly blame the Government for the junior doctors' strike, a new poll shows.

The Ipsos MORI survey conducted for the Health Service Journal shows 64 per cent blame the Government for the strike while just 13 say it is junior doctors' fault.

The findings come as medics walk out for 24 hours over a new contract that would redefine weekend and evening working to not count as anti-social hours.

Last-minute talks to end the dispute did not produce a solution, with reports that Jeremy Hunt personally vetoed one deal agreed by officials.

While there has been a small rise in opposition to the strike, public support for the stoppage as a whole is still very high, with just 36 per cent opposed to the strike and 66 per cent supportive.

Another unweighted online poll on a doctors-only social network found that around 90 per cent of doctors would consider quitting if the Government’s new contract was imposed.

The high opposition amongst medics chimes with the 98 per cent of BMA junior doctors who voted in favour of strike action in a ballot last year.

Emergency care is to be left in place during this stoppage, as in the previous strike last month.

Ipsos MORI / Health Service Journal

Initial plans to also stop emergency care for this strike were dropped by the BMA after further negotiations and a poll showing public support for such an action would be more limited.

Medics on social media have compared the disruption of the strikes to that of an additional bank holiday – where only emergency is provided.

A Department for Health spokesperson said: “This strike is completely unnecessary. It is very disappointing that tens of thousands of patients and NHS staff have been inconvenienced by the BMA.

“We have now agreed the vast majority of the contract detail with the BMA but it’s a great shame that they have broken the agreement we made with ACAS to discuss the outstanding issue of Saturday working and pay for unsocial hours.”

BMA junior doctors committee chair Johann Malawana said:

“Last weekend, thousands of us took to the streets of London and Bristol to show that our fight for a properly negotiated contract continues.

"Today, we raise our voices again, on hundreds of picket lines across England."

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