Doctors Arjun Kattakam and Trevor Killeen alongside Mark Robinson of the UNITE union spoke in Lowestoft last week. They spoke of doctor shortages, of holes on the service, of their £60,00 of debt and counting, of having worked 84hrs already that week. They spoke of 40—50% of doctors on duty 24/7 and of what was to come: the privatisation of the NHS within 5 years.
Next strike from 8am Tuesday 26 to 8am to Thursday 28 April. The doctors will be campaigning in Lowestoft precinct on Tuesday 26 from 1pm.
Lowestoft Coalition Against the Cuts (LCAC) visited the junior doctors mounting a picket outside the James Paget Hospital. They are protesting against the imposition of a new contract which they believe will push them and the NHS beyond breaking point.
The doctors who braved the cold and the constant driving rain were cheered by the number of passing drivers who tooted their horns to show support. There is no doubt that the public do not believe the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt’s, attempt to blame junior doctors for the dispute nor do they believe that a seven-day NHS is achievable without proper funding for proper stafﬁng levels.
LCAC spoke to junior doctor Arjun Kattakayam who has worked in virtually every department in the hospital over the past two years.
“Present stafﬁng levels and shift patterns are already affecting the treatment I can give. The proposed new shifts mean that I will not be able to be the good physician that I know I am. Pay is not the issue for the doctors, it is about being able to care for people, to make people well.”
Dr Kattakayam also expressed deep concern about the future, “The NHS is still the best health system in the world and one of the cheapest. This contract will worsen treatment and impact on recruitment. Half of the doctors I graduated with have already been lost to the NHS. A run-down NHS will be ripe for privatisation and I fear that is the government’s intention. Most of our patients are elderly, how can they afford to pay for treatment?”
Because ofJeremy Hunt’s refusal to talk doctors have announced their intention to withdraw emergency cover on their next strike dates on 26th/28th April. Hunt has had ﬁve weeks notice and has remained silent. He should withdraw his threat tojunior doctors and to the future of the NHS. This damaging contract should be dropped not imposed.