JUNIOR doctors will walk out of hospitals across the country today in the first of three planned strikes.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt wants to introduce a "truly seven-day NHS" and plans to cut the number of hours on a weekend that junior doctors can claim extra pay.

Talks aimed at resolving a dispute over a new contract failed on Friday, meaning a 24-hour strike will go ahead from 8am today.

At Southend Hospital, which is now in critical condition as revealed in today’s paper, plans have apparently been put in place to minimise the impact of any walk out.

Thousands of routine operations, appointments and procedures are expected to be cancelled as NHS trusts run a reduced service focusing on emergency care.

Are junior doctors right to strike?


Dr Norman Traub, secretary of the Southend branch of Keep Our NHS Public, and believes striking is the right thing to do.

He said: “As secretary of the group I am in support of the strike of the junior doctor’s against changes to their contract.

“The junior doctors will be providing emergency care during the strike and the hospital consultants, who are backing them, will provide the further cover.

“The Department of Health is intent on imposing this contract on the junior doctors.

“The doctors are striking for more pay.

“The changes to the contract will mean both pay cuts and removing the safeguards for doctors in training working excessively long hours, this will increase the risk to patients and affect the quality of care.

“This government are not only attacking the junior doctors but have withdrawn the training bursaries for student nurses, midwives and allied health professionals. This will force them to take on jobs during training to avoid debts.

“Junior doctors working intolerable shifts and excessively tired, with all the will in the world are not in a position to give the best care to their patients. “It is the government policies of privatising and cutting services that are harming patient care.

“The increasing privatisation has fragmented the services and created an atmosphere of competition not cooperation, which has been the hallmark of the NHS.

“The junior doctors and student nurses , who have had their bursaries withdrawn, are in the forefront of the fight for a return to the founding principles of the NHS, a service publicly funded, publicly run and free at the point of delivery.”

“If the strike by the junior doctors is not successful, the government will move to reduce the pay and change the conditions of service for other categories of staff in the NHS.

“The junior doctors and the nurses are in the frontline, fighting against the attacks on the NHS. They have the support in the hospital of the consultants, other professional staff and ancillary staff.

“Their patients and the public value the vital service they are rendering and the devotion to their jobs.

“The trade unions, the pensioners, community organisations and campaigning organisations like KONP, wholeheartedly support their cause.

"These organisations share a common struggle with the junior doctors and student nurses in resisting the government’s onslaught on the NHS and fighting for a return to its founding principles.”


CONSERVATIVE politicians have united to say why strike action is wrong.

Mark Francois MP for Rayleigh and Wickford, said: “I know from recent correspondence that some doctors feel very strongly about this but I do not think that taking strike action is the best way to express their concerns, not least, as it means that thousands of patients will now have operations postponed or cancelled through no fault of their own.

“I hope the junior doctors and their representatives from the British Medical Association will return to the negotiating table to try and sort out a solution which benefits patients and doctors alike.

"In summary, I think the best way forward would be to continue discussions rather than a strike.”

Ian Ward, Conservative councillor at Rochford District Council, said: “I can understand where the doctors are coming from.

"My sister in law has been in Queens hospital for the last month being treated and I got an opportunity to speak to the doctors, I do have sympathy for them but then again I think it is putting lives at risk to strike.

“I would say there are concerns to be addressed. I am against the strikes, but we need to more understand the needs of the doctors.

“I don’t think it should have come come to this, more should have been done and it could have been done better. It should not have come this far.

“It is dangerous that they are striking.

“When the doctors train it is probably costing them thousands of pounds to become a doctor and they do work extremely long hours. I do have the utmost sympathy with them and for the time they put in, I really do, but it shouldn’t have gone this far.

“I’m disappointed that they are having to strike. You hear so many different stories, like that the strike is more politically motivated and if that’s the case I think it’s very wrong and putting people’s lives at risk, that is very bad!”

David Amess, MP for Southed West added: “ Jaw, jaw is better than war, war. I think the best way forward is for both sides to keep talking.”