Boston and Skegness MP Matt Warman has spoken out on junior doctors contracts
Mr Warman was speaking during the eighth allotted Opposition Day in the House of Commons when he said he wanted to see a contract that enticed people into specialties such as A&E and being a GP.
He said this was ‘in part because the latter will see fewer visiting the former, and which acknowledges that working on a Saturday morning is already the norm for thousands but says that working late on a Saturday night is distinctly antisocial’.
The Government and junior doctors, backed by the British Medical Association (BMA), have been locked in a row over changes in doctors’ contracts – with junior doctors due to be balloted on industrial action next month.
The Government has said that next summer it plans to impose a new contract, which will reclassify doctors’ normal working week to include Saturdays and up to 10pm every night except Sunday.
Mr Warman opened up by saying: “My wife is a junior doctor, an F2 currently working in A&E in one of London’s busiest hospitals.
“I could therefore start by thanking the Secretary of State for livening up my evenings, some of my afternoons and some of my mornings.
“Instead, I wish to start by saying that however hard colleagues in this place may think we work, precious few of us, as politicians, will ever really understand what it is like to work 10 hours a day and longer, when there is no time to eat, drink or even use the toilet, all while making decisions that are vital for patients and where a single error is both life-threatening and career-ending.
“Too many doctors feel that the current health service works despite the existing outdated systems, rather than because of them. That is why I hope all parties agree that reform is vital.”
He said the intense conditions in which people work helped explain the ‘passion’ that had surrounded the debate over junior doctors contracts.
He said doctors ‘deserved better’ and accused the BMA of filing ‘knowing misinformation’.
He told the House of Commons: “Although it is hugely frustrating that the BMA has told many people, wrongly, that they are in line for a 30% pay cut when many will get a 15% pay rise and that many now think the Government want to impose longer working hours when in fact they will be cut, it is understandable.
“I have seen precious little attempt at genuine honesty from the BMA, but nobody should forget that the union has stepped into a vacuum, and that is why I hope the BMA will come back to the table and negotiate.”
He said the NHS should have as ‘little politics’ as possible and that people should accept doctors have a ‘commitment to their patients that transcends their commitment to any one hospital, any union or any political party’.
He said: “The low morale that has persisted in the NHS since last winter has not been helped by a lack of negotiation, and it will not be helped by the exhausting anger of a strike.
He concluded: “Above all, I would like to see the mature approach from the Labour party, the BMA and all those concerned that will put the NHS on a sustainable footing. We have acted in good faith and I hope that the Labour party will see that and not seek to undermine the health service to which we are all indebted.”