Islington medics among junior doctors planning to go on strike

Dr Pablo de Vena Franks, a specialist registrar in Anaesthetics and Intensive Care at the Whittingto

Dr Pablo de Vena Franks, a specialist registrar in Anaesthetics and Intensive Care at the Whittington and Royal Free hospitals, is planning to go on strike - Credit: Archant

Islington medics are among the junior doctors nationwide planning a ‘full walkout’ on December 8 and 16 and offer only emergency care on December 1 after 98 per cent voted in favour of industrial action.

Doctors represented by the BMA - NHS doctors’ union the British Medical Association - are furious at Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s proposed changes to their contracts.

Under the health secretary’s proposals, “normal” working hours would be extended to run from 7am to 10pm, Monday to Saturday. Under current rules, doctors receive a higher rate of pay when they work outside of the hours between 7am-7pm, from Monday to Friday.

Junior doctors have claimed that the contract changes would lead to pay cuts of up to 30 per cent, longer working hours, as well as putting patients lives at risk.

Ballot results released to members show just 546 of the 28,316 junior doctors who returned ballot papers voted against the strike action.

The BMA said today the ballot result represents “the strength of feeling in the profession” over the contract the government plans to impose from August 2016, and said at this point ACAS, the independent adjudication service, should be called in to resolve the dispute.

Speaking to the Gazette following the result, Dr Pablo de Vena Franks, 33, who works as a specialist registrar in Anaesthetics and Intensive Care at the Whittington and Royal Free hospitals, said that he and other junior doctors in Islington are planning on joining the strike.

Most Read

He called on patients in the borough to support the strike.

He said: “If you trust us with your children, with your relatives and with your lives, trust us and support us in striking. We know it will be disruptive for the three days of industrial action but we are aiming for the long term and we want a better local hospital for you. We want the staff that treat you to be happy, valued and not exhausted or overworked.”

Dr de Vena Franks, who lives in Horsell Road, Highbury, and has lived in Islington all his life, added: “I got great care at the Whittington as a child when I had several operations and I know what it feels like to be a patient. But I also know what it is like to work for the NHS. To make it better you have to fight against changes that will make it worse, and that is what this government is trying to do.”

He added that other staff members at the Whittington Hospital had also expressed their support for the strike.

“I have be working in the labour ward this week, and the midwives I spoke to were overwhelmingly in support of the strike. They understand that if the government manage to extend normal working hours from 7am - 10pm, including saturdays, then midwives, nurses and all other NHS staff will get the same treatment.”

However, the junior doctor stressed that patients’ health would not be comprised during the strike and that more senior doctors would cover the gaps.

The overwhelmingly supportive vote gives doctors’ approval to a rolling programme of industrial action, but initially junior doctors would provide only emergency care for 24 hours beginning Tuesday December 1 then hold two full walkouts on Tuesday December 8 and Wednesday December 16.

The Department of Health has been contacted for comment.