On Wednesday 6th April I met junior doctors on strike outside St James's University Hospital in East Leeds.
This was the fourth round of industrial action by members of the British Medical Association, in response to the Conservative Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt's, announcement that he would impose a new contract on junior doctors without agreement.
The Government has made no move to re-open negotiations, with the BMA, and the Government's own impact assessment of the new contract - which they carried out after asserting it would be imposed - found the contract may disadvantage women.
I had this to say:
"I was born in St James's Hospital and I am concerned that today at St James and hospitals across Leeds there are 1200 junior doctors affected by this dispute. I am visiting the hospital to hear these doctors concerns.
Public opinion, according to poll after poll, supports the junior doctors in this dispute. The Labour Party too recognises the huge contribution junior doctors make and regret that today’s industrial action has gone ahead, but puts the blame fairly and squarely on Jeremy Hunt who has lost the support of health care professionals.
Jeremy Hunt should hear this public concern and start by reversing his arrogant announcement that he will impose the contract without agreement in August. He should rule out any measures that will disadvantage women, who the NHS relies upon, and who are threatened by his contract. And he should then listen to the BMA’s real concerns about pay, staffing and rotas and listen to those on the ground about how we can go about improving our NHS.
Together, Labour members, BMA members, health workers and patients, must make clear to the Conservative Government that they do not have the right to treat health staff like this, nor to run our health service into the ground and we will stand up to defend it."