On Tuesday 26th April, the first day of an all out strike by junior doctors, Lowestoft Coalition Against The Cuts tested public attitudes in Lowesoft’s shopping precinct.
Dr Trevor Killeeen and colleagues Chloe Wade and Ben Kirk from James Paget Hospital answered questions about the new contract, about the stresses that they work under and about their fears for the future of the NHS.
No one asked the doctors if they were trying to topple the government as an anonymous government source claimed. No one believe Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s, claim that he had to honour an election commitment to provide a “7 day NHS” without providing the resources.
In little more than an hour dozens came to speak to the doctors and to vote. In a yes/no ballot which asked the simple question “Do you support the junior doctors?”, one hundred voted Yes, only 3 voted No.
The public is on the side of the junior doctors. The NHS needs more money while the government’s priority is to cut the top rate of tax, to cut corporation tax and to invest in Trident rather than in the NHS.
Like any dodgy private company that wins an NHS contract Jeremy Hunt sported the NHS logo when interviewed on the BBS’s Newsnight. His crass attempt to curry favour didn’t work as he failed time and time again to answer direct questions. No wonder he won’t talk to the doctors.
An Interview With A Doctor.
LCAC spoke to year two juniuor doctor Arjun Kattakayam on the picket line outside James Paget Hospital. “Present staffing levels ans shift patterns are already affecting the treatment I can give. The proposed new shifts means 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 the people, to make people well”.
Dir Kattakayam also expressed deep concern about the future, “This contact will worsen treatment and impact the 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 feat that is the governments intention. Most of our patients are elderly, how can they afford to pay for treatment?”