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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.

[Tweet “Truth & lies behind #juniordoctorsstrike (& what you can do) gues post by @drjackydavis”]

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.


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The Complaining Cow Meets Iain Duncan Smith #IDSfail

IDS Constituent

I am lucky enough to have Iain Duncan Smith as my MP! As a constituent of his I thought I’d go and have a chat. Well, poor old IDS he does get a bad press and I like to support the underdog so thought I’d give him a chance to put across how much he knows about the area for which he is an MP. He should know it well, he’s been MP since 1992 in Chingford and 1997 someone somewhere redrew the boundaries and he got Woodford Green as well. I was sure he visited often, (he doesn’t live in Chingford he lives here.) I thought I’d find out what he thinks about how people are affected by benefit reforms and cost of living rises.

Booking a surgery with IDS

So, I thought I’d go see him. Well why not? I went to see him as a concerned human being about my fellow man. I emailed him, 4 emails actually (that will be another story coming soon) and after 8 working days I got an email to ask if I could make a surgery on Friday. I asked her where it was and if I could record it. I was told that I could ask this at the surgery. Bit difficult when I didn’t know where the surgery was. I also was very very good and didn’t point out that there are no apostrophes in the words “Tuesdays” and “Thursdays” and those of you who know me and follow this blog know just how kind of me that was! For those that don’t see here!

Start of the surgery with IDS

Now, I have a new little gift for people when I meet them as The Complaining Cow. I thought I’d go bearing a present for IDS. Oh come on, how many presents do you think IDS gets from normal people? Anyway, It’s this:

"What is it?"

If you got this from someone what would you say? I asked on my Facebook page and generally, it was “Thank you”, and lots of “Clever idea” “Tell me about what you do” sort of things. So, given that it is a retro milk bottle (remember those milk bottles we had in school before Thatcher the Milk Snatcher?) with sweets in it and it clearly has a business card on it you’d think he would say something along the lines of “This is your business?” “Is this you?” “This looks interesting” Nope. He looked at it very suspiciously and said “What is it?” I explained, he did then say “Oh interesting, hope it works well for you, it’s what we need for the economy more people taking on challenges and risks” Did he Hell, he did say “Thank you” though.

The meeting with IDS

So, I had my long long list. A few pages in fact, but sadly didn’t get very far. 15 minutes is a very short time you know. BUT! I have not been banned from going back and making regular appointments 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 So back I will go. Mind you if he see this and hears some of the clips he might decided against it, although as my MP I’m not sure he can do that?

So, you want to know what he said don’t you? Ok, after talking about the delay in responding to me I sort of mentioned social media:

Talking social media with dinosaur IDS

Catch the part about emailing being as quick as tweeting? I’d already told him it had taken 8 working days for his office to respond to me. Watch out for a follow up post there were FOIs in them there emails which as far as I know haven’t been forwarded….


I asked him about Foodbanks:

The Complaining Cow and Iain Duncan Smith discuss Food Banks


Man of the people “..talks to lots of people from churches and stuff like that” What more do you want from him?! More positive stuff about IDS? Hmm well before that attempt here is an update 22/01/04 statement from Chris Mould from Trussell Trust:

‘We have asked Iain Duncan Smith to meet with us and would welcome the opportunity to speak to him.

We are keen to open a dialogue with DWP and have been asking to meet them for some time because the DWP is the key department with the power to help a significant proportion of the people we meet at our foodbanks.’

Also, as far as we know, we are unaware of Iain Duncan Smith asking us about foodbanks in Chingford. We will look into this further but cannot find a record of this at the moment”.

Oh, oh. Hmmm. IDS says he asked Trussell Trust if it was going to open a food bank in his constituency. It says they have no record. Someone somewhere is possibly telling porkies. I wonder which it is. Or maybe Trussell Trust will find it. I think they’d know though…..!

Talking benefits with IDS

I do think that he actually believes what he is doing is right. He thinks he is doing good. I’m not saying he IS! I’m saying he believes he is. Hear for yourself where we chat about benefits and the cost of living (and no, I didn’t put that laughter in):

The Complaining Cow & IDS Chat Benefits and Cost of Living

See what I mean? He believes what he says doesn’t he? “Generous benefit” “Most people get a fair deal.” The exemptions he mentions however are limited. No exemption is made for the equipment that might be needed by someone disabled for example. But I ran out of time…

Update 24/01/14:

(Can’t make these automatically open in another window so just right click!)

Smirking at:
Apparent laughter:

Was IDS set up to make a complete hash?

Now, I wonder if poor old IDS is being set up by Camoron. (Not a typo). Do you think he’s making IDS do all the dirty stuff then right near the election sack him and say “Look I got rid of him, we’ll make changes after his mess” as a crack at trying to get back into power? Aw poor old IDS.

Look, I didn’t vote him in, never have so don’t go pointing the finger at me! It is sadly though one of the safest seats in the country or I’d think about standing against him as an Independent with the name “Z None of the Above Please”. Not that I have the will, the inclination, the time, the campaign, the support or the money! Love to see someone give him a run for his money though, don’t think he has ever gone to a single house at election time. I’ve been ready for him but my vote isn’t important to him.

So, have you changed your opinion of the man? Did you think he was different talking to a constituent rather than a journalist? Did you agree with anything? Can you see another side?

Went and had another go Round 2 The Complaining Cow Meets IDS