Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s decision to try to force the much disputed new contract on Junior Doctors has provoked an immediate and furious reaction. Adam DC reports.
Several hundred protesters descended on Whitehall this evening, Thursday 11 February, to register their disgust at Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s imposition of damaging new contracts for Junior Doctors.
Cycling down Whitehall, you could hear the unified cheers of the crowd outside the DoH above the noise of the heavy traffic, and supportive beeps of those stuck in the traffic.
“Save our; NHS, save our, NHS” rung around the crowd, and will have been heard across the road in Downing Street.
The “national NHS singers” serenaded their fellow protesters in a good natured, yet angry demonstration, typical of many of the recent anti-austerity and anti-cuts mobilisations.
The crowd included nurses and Junior Doctors, a smattering of Consultants, GPs, other health workers and groups opposed to the Tory attacks on health and social services.
Junior doctors, and particularly medical students, who had called this impromptu demonstration, were united and determined in their opposition to the changes being forced on them. The students were very aware of how this will impact them negatively when they become juniors themselves, as well as their future patients and the NHS itself, with many saying it would put them off entering the profession in England.
Speakers attacked Hunt’s spurious use of statistics, what many consider to be outright lies about the 7-day NHS, and recognised this was just another way to further break up the NHS, leading to more privatisation and misery for them as doctors, for other NHS staff, and for patients.
Chants of “Hunt must go” and “NHS under attack, stand up, and fight back” showed a spirit of resistance that these young, and not so young, Juniors will need to keep hold off in the coming months.
Solidarity came from many quarters, from Taxi drivers to private health care nurses and student nurses, who are themselves having their bursaries attacked by Hunt’s Department.
One speaker, a Paediatric Doctor who helped win the campaign to save Lewisham hospital, said:
“Don’t be demoralised, you are a generation who know this is a corrupt and deceitful government.
“You have to fight back: doctors, nurses, support staff and patients. Together we can win and save our NHS.”
Workers from the National Gallery, who are fighting cuts and new terms and conditions in their own dispute, came to the demonstration carrying their banner from the national gallery, after also protesting tonight against this government’s unwarranted attacks on the public sector.
As PCS Union Rep Candy Udwin told the crowd: “solidarity is key”.