Support has been “positive” for junior doctors in Huntingdon

Junior doctors in Huntingdon today (Wednesday)

Junior doctors in Huntingdon today (Wednesday) - Credit: Archant

Members of the public have been meeting junior doctors on the picket line today (Wednesday) as part of two days of industrial action in Huntingdon.

A Meet the Doctors event was held at Hinchingbrooke Hospital and on Huntingdon High Street and striking doctors will also be out in force again tomorrow (Thursday).

A spokesman for the junior doctors said: “Overall support has been very positive and we have collected many signatures demonstrating this.”

Hinchingbrooke Paediatrician Dr Nik Johnson, who has had a letter published in this week’s Hunts Post, said: “To be very clear, junior doctors are not asking for more money, but for a better, safer NHS. However, a better safer NHS will cost us more because it needs more staff at all levels and occupations to cover the massively increased workload and expectation.

“The junior doctors’ contract offer is cost neutral – no more money is available to employ more staff. Existing staff would have to be spread more thinly. Wards would be less well staffed during the week to move more staff to the weekends. This could make the NHS less safe for patients, not more.”

Junior doctors across England are taking part in a fourth walkout in their long-running dispute.

This latest national 48-hour strike started at 8am on April 6 and centres on the government’s decision to impose changes to junior doctors’ pay and conditions, particularly weekend payments, from this summer.

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Ministers drew up plans to introduce new contracts as it said the current ones were outdated and unfair. A deal could not be reached and when talks broke down, the government announced in February that it would be imposing them, regardless, in the summer.

The health secretary has argued that he wants to improve care on Saturdays and Sundays because research shows patients are more likely to die if they are admitted to hospital on a weekend.

NHS England has described the action as “deeply regrettable”.