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Readers' panel: Is the BMA ‘playing politics’ in the junior doctors’ dispute?

Prime Minister Theresa May has accused the British Medical Association of ‘playing politics’ after the union announced strike action in England. The BMA suspended action due to take place this month but a series of walkouts are scheduled for October to December over the imposition of a controversial new contract for junior doctors. Nursing Standard readers panellists have their say.

Prime Minister Theresa May has accused the British Medical Association of ‘playing politics’ after the union announced strike action in England. The BMA suspended action due to take place this month but a series of walkouts are scheduled for October to December over the imposition of a controversial new contract for junior doctors. Nursing Standard readers panellists have their say 


Rachel Kent, mental health nurse, Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust, London 

Rachel Kent

It is difficult to make an accurate assessment of whether either side is ‘playing politics’, but it would be naïve to suggest there wasn’t a political agenda behind the issue of the junior doctors’ contract. I don’t want to see a similar one imposed on nurses, which is why I have always supported the junior doctors. They are unhappy, and if they believe the contract isn’t safe for patients or right for them, I would take their view over anyone else's and support the BMA in resolving these concerns.


Grant Byrne (@GGByrne), nursing student, Scotland

Grant Byrne

This an obvious ploy to shift the blame for strikes from the government to our hardworking junior doctors. We must remember doctors don't want to strike, they are being forced to, and are only responding like any of us would if we stood to lose out or thought patient safety was at risk.

 When politicians are in charge of the purse strings, unions must be prepared to ‘play politics’. If Theresa May doesn’t like this, she had better instruct health secretary Jeremy Hunt to negotiate with the BMA. Otherwise, she may face the consequences in the polls.


Jane Scullion (@JaneScullion), respiratory nurse consultant at Glenfield Hospital, Leicester

Jane Scullion

Going on strike has to be seen as political action, be it against an employer or the government.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt wants to impose a new contract on junior doctors, and members of the BMA who voted for strike action do not want this. The prime minister has said that the contract is ‘safe’ and accused the BMA of not putting patients first. Whether this action is against the actual imposition of the contact or the government is immaterial, the knock-on effects will be the same. 


Drew Payne (@drew_london), community staff nurse, north London 

Drew Payne

The government wants to fund a seven-day NHS by cutting weekend payments for NHS staff – in other words, cutting the pay of the people who will be running this new NHS.

Theresa May has called this new contract ‘safe for patients’, ignoring that it unfairly penalises junior doctors who work weekends and those who work part-time. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland don’t think this is needed, and aren’t changing junior doctors' contracts.

The government has been using politics to push this huge change, the BMA has no choice but to use politics now.


Readers' panel members give their views in a personal capacity and do not represent their organisations.

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