Junior doctors' strike: Public increasingly blame both sides for all-out stoppage

Latest polling suggests the public are siding with doctors

Jon Stone
Thursday 28 April 2016 13:42
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Chart: Statista
Chart: Statista

The public increasingly blame both the Government and doctors for the junior doctors' strike as the all-out stoppage goes into its second day, new polling suggests.

A survey by Ipsos MORI for the BBC released at the start of the strike found that 54 per cent of the public blame only the Government for the dispute's continuation, compared with 64 per cent in January.

The protracted row has led to both sides being increasingly seen as to blame, with the proportion who blame only doctors also falling from 13 per cent to 8 per cent.

Those who blame both sides is up sharply from 17 per cent to 35 per cent, however.

There is so far little public appetite for escalating the dispute further. A YouGov poll for The Times newspaper found that around 60 per cent of voters believe it would be wrong to strike indefinitely, with around a quarter backing the move.

Today’s strike is part of the first all-out stoppage to include NHS emergency medical care – previous strikes have left A&E rooms in place.

David Cameron yesterday told ITV News it was “not right” for junior doctors to go on strike, while Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said doctors would be responsible for any patient deaths.

The Health Secretary showed no signs of conciliatory language, describing the strike as a “very, very bleak day for the NHS”, as junior doctors walked out of emergency rooms for the first time in NHS history.

Mr Hunt has said he will unilaterally introduce a new contract for junior doctors. The medics say the policy will put patient safety at risk by incentivising unsafe shift patterns.

The Health Secretary says the contract will help improve NHS care at weekends. Both Mr Hunt’s proposals and those of the British Medical Association are cost-neutral.

Junior doctors accuse Jeremy Hunt of handling contract crisis 'absolutely abysmally'

The BMA stressed yesterday that emergency care would still be available – but provided by senior doctors.

Junior doctors walked off the job at 8am on Tuesday and returned at 5pm in the evening; they have done the same on Wednesday.

Statistics from NHS England on Tuesday showed that 78 per cent of junior doctors did not attend work on the first day of the all-out stoppage.

The figures in this article have been amended.

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