Doctors to strike as row over motives heats up

Soon, around 45,000 junior doctors in England plan to stop working. Thousands of operations will be cancelled, but the doctors say they have no other choice. Is it a selfish decision?

What’s happening

At 8am on strike day, thousands of junior doctors will either go home from work, or simply not to turn up. For the next 24 hours, hospitals in England will only give emergency care to their patients, as doctors protest against a new employment contract which has been proposed by the government.

Find out more

For months, the doctors have negotiated with the government’s health secretary Jeremy Hunt, who wants the NHS to give the same care on weekends as it does from Monday to Friday. He has offered the doctors a basic pay rise — but they say that they will lose money overall, because they will no longer be paid more to work on weekends and in the evenings.

Dr Mark Porter, who is in charge of the doctors’ negotiations, says the government’s changes will be bad for both doctors and patients. He says they ‘sincerely regret’ the difficulties caused by the strike, but there is no other way to make the government listen.

But Jeremy Hunt says the decision to strike is ‘disappointing’. Patients could suffer if there are fewer doctors in the hospitals.

Some say…

It is selfish to go on strike over money and working at weekends. The doctors always knew that their job would be hard work — they should accept that the government is trying to make things better. Besides, this strike puts some of the country’s sickest people in danger. The doctors shouldn’t risk it, they should keep talking until everyone agrees.

Others think…

The strike is not about money. If doctors are too tired, they might accidentally hurt patients. If they cannot support their families, they could choose to move abroad. That makes things even worse for those left behind. Doctors are trying to protect their patients — the government should not take advantage of them by making unreasonable demands.

You Decide

  1. Would you go on strike if you were a doctor?

Activities

  1. Being a doctor is a very difficult job. List three of their most important responsibilities.

Some People Say...

“It is never be right to leave patients without care, even for a day.”

What do you think?

Word Watch

Strike
Stopping work as a form of protest.
Contract
Legal document explaining the duties, terms and conditions of a job - what a worker is expected to do and how, and the pay and hours.
Negotiated
Talked, to reach agreement.
Health secretary
The government minister in charge of health issues, including doctors and hospitals.
NHS
The UK National Health Service provides free healthcare when people need it. It is paid for by the government from taxes.
Sincerely
Genuinely.

Subjects

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