In an interview with The Sphinx, Jeremy Corbyn claimed a labour government would reverse a contract imposed on junior doctors by Jeremy Hunt.
In answer to the question ‘If Jeremy Hunt’s damaging junior doctor contracts are imposed in 2016, will a 2020 labour victory reverse the this attack on doctors?’ Mr Corbyn said ‘absolutely we’ll reverse them’.
He went on to say ‘we’ve opposed these changes all along the way and I must say its devastating for junior doctors who have worked really hard…suddenly to be told they’re worth less’.
‘Their wage is going to be cut, their conditions are going to be cut (sic) and they’re going to be expected to work longer and longer hours’.
‘I want doctors to be able work in a secure environment in which they’re not routinely abused or totally exhausted by what’s going on’.
Mr Corbyn is certainly passionate about the issue, but if Mr Hunt pushes through his proposed contract, will 2020 be too late?
The contract, scheduled to be imposed from August 2016, will redefine ‘social hours’ (non-overtime hours) to include 7am-10pm Monday to Saturday. It is currently 8am-5pm Monday-Friday.
It will increase the amount of money paid for work outside of these hours, but doctors say this will still reduce their salaries by about 33%. A recent concession from Mr Hunt proposed a 11% increase in basic salary, but this still leaves the average junior doctor with a 22% pay cut.
Safeguards on the number of hours doctors are allowed to work are also to be removed, causing concern that doctors will become overworked and make mistakes, causing patient care to suffer.
Balloting of junior doctors in England is currently underway and will finish on 18th November.
In reference to potential strike action, the BMA released a statement on their website saying ‘This is not a decision we have taken lightly, and we are fully aware of the implications’
‘…we believe that this is the right thing to do to defend the current and next generations of junior doctors’.