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NHSE trying to ‘undermine’ doctors strike, claims BMA

NHS England has been accused of bowing to political pressure and trying to “undermine” the junior doctors strike.

British Medical Association council chair Philip Banfield tonight wrote to NHSE chief executive Amanda Pritchard accusing her organisation of the “weaponisation” of the process used to agree minimum services level during the strike.

Junior doctors walked out yesterday to begin a six day strike, the latest in their 10 month campaign and the longest in NHS history.

Professor Banfield’s letter claims that NHSE is not respecting the terms of the voluntary agreement to provide “derogations”. These, says the letter, “allow for junior doctors to return to work in the event of safety concerns arising from ‘unexpected and extreme circumstances’ unrelated to industrial action”.

The BMA accuses trusts of not providing the information the union needs to determine if the requests for derogations are justified. It said that the lack of information provided by trusts had led to it turning down 20 requests for derogations.

The letter states: “We are increasingly drawing the conclusion that NHS England’s change in attitude towards the process is not due to concerns around patient safety but due to political pressure to maintain a higher level of service, undermine our strike action and push the BMA into refusing an increasing number of requests; requests, we believe, would not have been put to us during previous rounds of strike action.

“The change in approach also appears to be politicisation and weaponisation of a safety critical process to justify the Minimum Service Level regulations.”

Read full story (paywalled)

Source: HSJ, 3 January 2024


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