Truth & lies behind #juniordoctorsstrike (& what you can do)

Looks like the majority of the public are against Jeremy Hunt, his bullying tactics and refusal to listen to people who know what they are talking about. From just a glance at social media he is completely outnumbered. His arrogance is stunning (yes in my humble opinion but I know I am far from alone!) up there with with Iain Duncan Smith whose arrogance knew no bounds when I questioned him in two surgeries! But what do we truly know? We know that it is probably more sensible to believe the entire medical profession than one single man and an MP at that, but what is the full story about what we are being told and what can we, the public do if we are truly behind the NHS? Is he right? Is he wrong? I asked Jacky Davis, a consultant in North London, a founder member of the campaign Keep our NHS Public and a member of the BMA Council to tell us. She is the co-author of two books about the NHS – NHS SOS, how the NHS was betrayed and How We Can Save It, and NHS For Sale. The final chapter of NHS SOS is entitled ‘What you can do to save the NHS’ and contains much practical advice about what the public can do to fight for the NHS. Follow her at @DrJackyDavis for up to date news about the NHS.

Guest post by Dr Jacky Davis

Dr Jacky Davis

Junior doctors are revolting
For the first time since the 1970’s junior doctors have taken industrial action in protest against a new contract, which they say is unfair and unsafe. On their side David Cameron and Jeremy Hunt claim that a new contract is needed to deliver a ‘7 day NHS’. You will of course hear greatly differing versions from the two sides of what is being offered and the grounds for rejection. Junior doctors say:

  • The contract will force doctors to work longer and later with fewer safeguards. This threatens to compromise patient safety
  • The 11% pay rise is more than offset by a drop in pay for working antisocial hours
  • Doctors pay starts below the national median – starting salary is £21,000, for an ASDA manager £22,000. Doctors also have to pay for registration, legal protection, insurance and exams
  • The new contract would penalise those who take time out to have a family or who work part time.

The government proposes that normal working hours should now be from 7 am – 10 pm Monday to Saturday (please note MPs have just cut their own hours and increased their own pay). The reduction of hours that attract extra pay is a red line in the sand for the government, because if they can redefine them for junior doctors they can redefine them for other NHS staff too…

On the government’s side, Hunt and Cameron have used their ‘manifesto promise’ of a 24/7 NHS to justify their imposition of the contract but it is important to remember:

  • We already have a 24/7 NHS. No-one is sent home with a broken leg or a burst appendix on a Saturday afternoon. Almost all NHS clinical staff work out of hours to provide emergency and urgent care, as Hunt was reminded by the twitter storm #ImInWorkJeremy
  • We can’t afford a routine 24/7 NHS While the government have refused to define what they mean by ‘a truly 7 day NHS’ they have indicated that they mean routine care available 7 days a week. Pilots show that patients don’t want this and Hunt certainly can’t afford it. Routine care requires not only doctors but all the support staff of nurses, radiographers, porters, admin staff etc. It would mean extending an already overstretched service across 7 days instead of 5.
  • A new contract is not needed to improve out of hours care. Emergency and urgent out of hours (OOH) care always needs improving, but this does not require a new contract for junior doctors. The devolved nations are not imposing this contract (and indeed are already looking to recruit disaffected English doctors) and there are trusts in England which have improved their OOH care without the need for a new contract.
  • Leaked document reveals Jeremy Hunt’s own officials doubt his evidence on seven-day NHS plans more here so just who actually backs him?

What Cameron and Hunt say…
Both Cameron and Hunt have repeatedly misquoted statistics about increased mortality in relation to weekend admissions despite being publicly contradicted by the authors of the paper they quote and by the editor of the BMJ.  What’s more Hunts misleading claims about the dangers of being admitted over the weekend mean that 53% of people are now afraid of going to hospital out of hours, in itself a dangerous state of affairs. And ironically it has already been reported that Hunt’s treatment of the juniors has led to clinical initiatives to improve out of hours (OOH) care being derailed

As for the government’s accusation that junior doctors have been misled by their ‘irresponsible’ union – these are for the most part not people just out of medical school. ‘Junior doctor’ means most hospital doctors below the consultant grade, so that many of them will have years of experience on the wards, young families to consider – and a good understanding of their contracts. Of the 76% who voted, 98% supported industrial action, a percentage that political parties can only dream of (the Tories won the last general election with a vote of 36.7% on a 66% turnout).

Hunt has accused them of putting patients in danger but while junior doctors are striking patient care is being provided by highly experienced consultants and associated specialists (and it is well documented that mortality stays the same or actually drops during doctors’ strikes). It is true that some patients will have had their operations postponed, but while Hunt wrings his hands about this no-one has mentioned the fact that 70,000 operations were cancelled last year, due to NHS underfunding eg bed shortages, lack of staff and theatre time. This dwarfs what has happened during the 2 days of industrial action but there has been no mention of it in the mainstream media.

Current status
Cameron and Hunt have now taken their own ‘nuclear option’ and imposed the contract, the first time this has ever happened. Imposition, apart from seriously upsetting the very doctors who are the backbone of hospital care, could have serious consequences for recruitment and retention of doctors. 14 out of 20 CEOs have already withdrawn support from a letter in which they supposedly backed Hunt. Meanwhile Hunt – while claiming to have an open door – has dodged not only numerous invitations from the media to state his case but doctors themselves, running away from any confrontation. An event for which junior doctors had bought tickets was moved elsewhere at the last minute, and doctors who did manage to get there were screened out at the door. It is a damning indictment when the Health Minister is afraid to face his own staff.

Hunt and Cameron know that the public are overwhelmingly behind the junior doctors and the NHS in general.

What YOU can do to help put pressure on Cameron and Hunt
If you want to help then there ARE things you can do and some of them will only take a few seconds of your time and all will help raise the profile of all the issues.

  1. Please read about what is happening to the NHS and its staff  and think about joining a campaign or a local patients group.
  2. Practical action could also include writing to your MP and to national and local papers to support the juniors, turning up at the picket lines on days of action
  3. The continued use of social media to dispel the lies put out by the government
  4. Share this post with friends and family
  5. Join the campaign – Keep Our NHS public
  6. Read up on the privatisation of the NHS at NHS for sale
  7. Follow and rt @keepnhspublic
  8. Sign the petition Consider a vote of No Confidence in Jeremy Hunt, Health Secretary
  9. Sign the petition Jeremy Hunt to resume meaningful contract negotiations with the BMA
  10. Sign the petition Labour Party and TUC – call a national demonstration to support the junior doctors!
  11. Sign the letter asking asks David Cameron to show the BMA his plan for extended seven-day services here.
  12. Join the thunderclap here takes place 6.30pm 14th March 2016

The fight that the government has picked with junior doctors is just part of the present attack on the NHS and its staff. Cameron and Hunt are using the vague promise of ‘a truly 7 day NHS’ to impose a contract on junior doctors, in the hope and expectation that if they win they will roll out these changes to other NHS staff. They think the public’s interest and support will wane but we must not let this happen. This is everyone’s fight, NHS staff and patients and the public, and it is surely the government that is now taking risks with patients’ lives. Don’t let apathy win, every little thing helps.

Thank you for supporting OUR NHS.


Dr Phil Hammond says test the science, Hunt’s way and the doctor’s proposal in different hospitals and see what works.

You can always rt some of the best tweets out there too:

nhs 1 nhs2 nhs3 nhs4













Clips of Jeremy Hunt caught out over and over again.


The Small Claims Court process made simple

legal actionHave you considered alternatives to court?
Have you considered using an alternative dispute resolution service before taking someone to the Small Claims Court? These ways may be quicker cheaper and more simple. But if you have followed all the tips on how to complain, used the How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS! and the ADR avenues are not open to you then when all else fails and you can’t get the money you are owed you may choose to go to the Small Claims Court. There isn’t actually a Small Claims Court. It is the County Court through which a simple shorter process is available. Usually hearings last less than a day.

There are different processes in Scotland (where you can claim for up to £3,000 or up to £5,000 depending on case) and Northern Ireland £3,000.

You must try and resolve the matter before applying to the court. The court will expect you to have done this and given the defendant warning about going to court if a satisfactory response is not received within a set time. This is called a “Letter before action” which needs to state the facts – that there is money owed, why it is owed and how much is owed. The demand, with a reasonable period (usually 14 days is sufficient for the debt to be repaid), needs to state that if acknowledgment or reply is not received within 14 days, then proceedings will be prepared and issued.

What to consider before using the Small Claims Court

  • It takes ages. From start to court hearing is usually about 6 months. The process is relatively simple but not always completely clear, and changes, so don’t be caught out if you have been through the process before and read through all the information about all the stages and possible outcomes. It takes 6 months because there is time between all the stages of different paperwork.
  • If you are thinking of taking a large organisation like Tesco to court as I did, the chances of you being paid when you win are of course I really wanted to not be paid in time so I could send the bailiffs in and I didn’t get paid but it was just the usual poor internal communication. But seriously, if you take a rip off builder to court for example, consider the chances of being paid, the potential further costs of enforcing the judgement, and the builder going bankrupt.
  • Whether you can take on further stress knowing that the whole process will take 6 months and a fair bit of your time putting evidence together and undertaking the court (I did not find the court paperwork cumbersome but putting evidence together can be).
  • The likelihood of winning.

£10,000 the case can still go through the small claims process but if you as a claimant lose you may have to pay the defendant’s costs. Claims for personal injury must be under £1,000. It also needs to be less than £1,000 when a tenant is claiming against their landlord because they want repairs or other work undertaken on the property and those works are less than £1,000. In Scotland and Northern Ireland, the Small Claims Court cannot be used to claim personal injury compensation at all. If you’re filing a personal injury claim in Scotland or Northern Ireland, contact a solicitor for advice on how to begin proceedings.

You may be exempt from paying fees if you are on a low income but there is a long form to fill out to discover if you are eligible.

Using Money Claim Online (MCOL) is cheaper and I would recommend you use it. You can still ‘phone the court for advice (administrative) and when I have done so I have found them really helpful.

When you apply online all the details you need are on the website, but these are the very basics. You fill out a form from your local court but ideally online. Here you fill out all the details of the claim and contact details. One you keep and one is sent to the defendant. If it is complicated seek legal advice (Citizens Advice is free). You can also claim interest at 8%. The court sends a copy to the defendant.

The defendant can accept the claim and pay you, or they can make an offer of how to pay. You can accept this offer and if the defendant doesn’t pay you can take further legal action to enforce payment. If you do not accept the offer you will need to give your reasons and a court official will decide what is reasonable and will send both of you an order for payment (‘judgment for claimant after determination’). If you are not happy with this decision you can write to the court giving your reasons.  A judge will make a final decision and if the defendant does not keep to this arrangement you can take enforcement action.

If the defendant chooses to defend the case, they must respond within 14 days. A questionnaire is then sent to both parties. The parties will at this stage indicate whether they wish to try small claims mediation. Once all Direction Questionnaires are received the file is then referred to the District Judge for allocation. If parties have indicated that they wish to try mediation the District Judge will list the case for hearing for a date in the future and refer to mediation. If mediation is successful then the hearing will be cancelled, if not then the Claimant would pay the hearing fee 14 days before the hearing and the hearing will take place.

If mediation is successful then the Claimant would not get the issue fee back as this is for the issue of the claim and allocation, The fees that have been paid by the Claimant should be taken into account when accepting a settlement sum from the   Defendant.

A date and time is set for the hearing. Evidence is exchanged between the parties at least 14 days before the court hearing date.

Sometimes the court will not set a final hearing date at the allocation stage (when both parties are sent questionnaires). It could instead propose that the claim is dealt with without a hearing. If agreed by both parties it could be decided on papers only. The judge could hold a preliminary hearing if the claim requires special directions or where the judge feels that one party has no real prospect of succeeding and wants to sort out the claim as soon as possible to save everyone time and expense – or if the papers do not show any reasonable grounds for bringing the claim. A preliminary hearing, therefore, could become a final hearing where the matter is decided.

If the defendant doesn’t respond within the 14 days the judge can decide the case.

If the judge finds in your favour the judge will provide reasons for the decision. You will win your court costs.

If the defendant does not pay you can enforce the judgement. You have four choices:

Bailiffs for which you will pay another fee that the defendant will have to repay and fill out a “Warrant of control form”. The bailiff will attend the defendant’s property within 7 days and see if there are goods that can be sold. The defendant can make an offer to pay in instalments which you can agree or reject. If you reject you will return to court for the judge to determine repayment. You can add further costs for attending this hearing from the defendant.

Get money deducted from wages for which you will need to fill out a form to request that the defendant’s employer takes money from their wages to pay the debt – an “Attachment of earnings order”.

Freeze assets or money in an account for which you will need to fill out a“Third party debt order” so that assets in the defendant’s bank or building society are frozen and the court will decide if the money can be used to pay the   debt.

Charge the person’s land or property. You can ask the court to charge the defendant’s or company’s land or property for which you will need to fill out a “Charging order”. If the land or property is sold, the defendant must pay this charge before they get their money.

At the court and on the Government website you will find all the necessary forms and details of the process and details of the various possible outcomes and charges for different enforcements.

Tips for preparing and being in, court

  • Sue the right person, check you have the registered not just the trading name for example
  • Read everything the court sends you carefully
  • When using appendices (I had numerous in the Tesco case) number them and refer to each piece by the number in the explanation in Make it easy for the judge.
  • Clearly demonstrate how the law has been broken g. “The photo of item in appendix x shows described fault.”
  • Use good English and get someone to check it if you are
  • Check deadlines for court
  • Check and double check your paperwork and, unless you are absolutely sure it makes perfect sense, get someone to to check through for you.
  • Be objective don’t use any emotive
  • Be polite and precise
  • When at court be respectful and allow for them running
  • Don’t forget to claim for court fees, any out of pocket expenses for going to court and to provide receipts for these.

I’ve been to court three times, one of them a builder took me! I won all 3 times, one of them being against Tesco. I have also helped other people through the process when we have not succeeded through other means! Fees at point of publishing this post are here.

A film for CAB on options open to you when you can’t get joy through customer services:

The 15 top things other public transport users do that annoy us revealed

What annoys you about public transport?

Time for a rant. Not had one for ages.

The other day I had the misfortune of travelling on the tube. Used to do it for work several years ago and was very glad when I changed jobs and was able to use the car! Nobody likes the tube but sometimes I am amazed at some people’s attitudes. This particular evening the tube was, as usual packed. There was a heavily pregnant woman standing next to me and no one got up for her. It was possible that that people couldn’t see, so I shouted at “could someone please get up for this woman? No one did, I kid he not. So, I said again “I have to say it again? Will someone please get up for this woman?” A man the other end who couldn’t possibly have seen why did. The woman who was exhausted she could only smile to me sat down. Meanwhile a woman, sat next to her friend who was sitting in the “get up and give this seat to someone who needs it more seat” said “I didn’t realise we had a teacher on board” Really? Really? You want to bring attention to the fact that you were too selfish to get up? So I said to her “No, actually I am not a teacher just someone with manners. ” To which, unbelievably her friend sat in the seat from which she should have been the first to get up said “It isn’t that, it’s that people can’t see” Really? Really?

“That’s why I shouted it out across the carriage” I said, bad enough you might think. But this woman was sat next to the glass partition thing which the pregnant woman was standing by! Talk about bringing attention to the fact that you are stupid as well as rude. I couldn’t believe it, arguing about not getting up for someone heavily pregnant. When the pregnant woman left she was able to speak (that’s how out of breath she was when she got on) she thanked me and said no one ever get up for her. Well if that’s you on the tube and you see someone frail or pregnant or disabled who needs your seat more than you do GET UP! Especially if you are in that designated seat! Or enlighten me, why don’t you get up for someone who clearly needs the seat more than you. (If you yourself are in more need of the seat then fair enough but if you aren’t I’d love to hear your reasoning!)

So here’s a list of what people find annoying please free to add yours! The biggest gripe was without doubt number one!

  1. People shouting into their mobile phones
  2. People putting their bags on the empty seat next to them
  3. People who don’t give up their seat for someone pregnant or less able to stand
  4. Eating smelly stuff
  5. Being able to hear noise from people’s headphones
  6. People who need to use some deodorant!
  7. Noise in the quiet coach
  8. Blocking the feet f the person opposite
  9. Bags under tables on trains
  10. People who let their children run amok
  11. People putting feet up on another seat
  12. Eating loudly
  13. Litterers
  14. people doing make up
  15. Trimming nails

Incidentally, if you have any complaints about delays on trains and buses see here and here.

What other horrendous stories of rudeness and things you hate about other passengers on the tube do you have?