To: BMA Council

Continue supporting Autumn Junior Doctor Strikes

Please continue to support the program of junior doctor strikes planned for this autumn

Why is this important?

Dear Council Member,

We are writing to you as junior doctors who are concerned that there have been attempts by some portions of the membership to lobby Council to withdraw support for the proposed strikes action We would like to assure you that, although striking is something no doctor ever wants to contemplate, that we feel discounting further strike action at this point would be a grave error.

A significant majority of junior doctors rejected the proposed contract offered by the Department of Health earlier this year, for a variety of reasons. Therefore, it is important that the BMA continues to fight against the contract, and particularly against the principle that a contract can be enforced on any group of free people without consent. Although some may say that the BMA hasn’t always made the correct choices at every stage of this dispute, the union has been both professional and temperate in the way it has gradually escalated expressions of displeasure with this discriminatory and unjust contract. This in spite of a bullying, dishonest and hard line attitude by the Department of Health. If we are unwilling to escalate strike action at this point then the BMA is left in an impasse; they have a clear mandate from the membership to fight the imposition of this contract, but have run out of tools with which to achieve this.

There has been the suggestion that we should cancel the proposed strikes as junior doctors are no longer united and no longer have the appetite for taking strike action. There is a grain of truth in this; we have remained remarkably unified over the past year and this has shifted slightly in recent weeks. However, one must look at it objectively. Although, relative to the past year, we are no longer as closely united as before, in absolute terms we are still speaking with one voice in opposition to the contract and opposition to the contract being forced upon us. The BMA was right to suspend the September strikes in order to promote patient safety. Also, there was not the desire to take action at this point. However, we now have nearly a month until the next proposed action, and this is easily sufficient time for junior doctors to organise on a local level to reunite the local membership behind taking action to fight for junior doctors and patients.

There have been repeated slurs from the Department of Health and popular press that the BMA has been infiltrated by the extreme left, and that these actions are simply a ruse to try and bring down the government. We are sure that we don’t need to tell you that this is not true, and that this is not the purpose of this letter. Many of the initial signatories of this letter voted to accept the contract. This is about the principle of following the democratic will of the membership, and giving the BMA the tools with which to do that.

The work of the leadership of the BMA is often criticised by the wider membership without appreciating the challenges and competing demands of the role. We would like to say that, although no large group always agrees on every decision, we appreciate all your hard work particularly over the past year.

Yours faithfully,

British Medical Association - BMA, London

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