Junior doctors are striking on 10 February after last-ditch talks between the British Medical Association (BMA) and the government finished without a resolution. Dr Jeeves Wijesuriya, a junior doctor, at Homerton Hospital explains the BMA's decision to strike for a second time.
"The current offer they've made actually harms doctors working the hardest rotas, the people working the most antisocial hours, the most weekends, the most evenings etc. People that already provide an excellent 24/7 service. But huge gaps in their rotas mean that they're already working well beyond their hours to deliver the care for patients that we want to deliver; that we've done our training to deliver," said Dr Wijesuriya.
"The problem here is if the government makes these contract changes, actually the service will be stretched even thinner, they'll be even more gaps and it'll make it really difficult to deliver the same standard of care and that's going to be harmful for patients as well as for doctors," he added.
When asked about the criticism that the BMA has been the one not budging in negotiations, Dr Wijesuriya said: "Our door has always been open. In fact we made an offer to the government that recognised some of the recruitment problems that we're having – that fit within the budget that the government wants us to achieve – and was a safe and fair system. The government turned it down because they're more interested in winning a political argument."
The government and those striking have failed to agree on weekend pay and whether Saturdays should be seen as normal time or warrant a premium, but Dr Wijesuriya dismissed the idea that the argument was over money.
"For the past 10 years, junior doctors have taken an under-inflation pay cut, but this argument isn't about pay. We haven't been outside marching for the last 10 years. The reason we're here is to stand up for our patients and try to prevent the government for making mistakes that will harm then in the long run," he said.