Oxford Mail:

Clive Peedell, leader of the National Health Action Party

The short answer to that question is yes.

But you might well be asking yourself why when we have seen cancelled appointments and angry patients while the junior doctors didn’t make it to the picket line. The junior doctor fight is all of our fight: it’s a fight for patient safety and a fight for our NHS to remain just that – our NHS.

The junior doctors, and that means any doctor under consultant level, are the backbone of the NHS; they are your hospital doctors, your GP trainees, your reseachers. They already work 24/7 for your daily care and in an emergency and what’s more, the doctors never asked for a pay review. So, you might be asking yourselves, if there’s already a 24/7 service and the doctors were happy with their deal why is there a problem and why should they strike?

Jeremy Hunt pledged in the Conservative Manifesto that his party would ensure a ‘seven-day NHS’ but then never bothered to define what he actually meant by that and I’m not sure they know even now. Nevertheless, this contract is based around the government trying to get a 24/7 NHS on the cheap.

Both consultants and junior doctors already work during the weekend but an extension of week-day care into Saturday and Sunday would not only mean junior doctors having to work longer hours, it would mean support staff such as nurses and porters also having to work, costing the NHS more.

Mr Hunt reiterated yesterday the pay packet for the new contract is cost neutral. So, unless junior doctors work fewer hours during the week (which will affect routine and emergency weekday care) to deliver more weekend care, there is no way a routine seven-day NHS can be delivered that is both fair to junior doctors and safe for patients.

A seven-day routine NHS is a non-starter in the context of the current NHS crisis and the plan for a further £22bn of NHS ‘efficiency savings’.

It also means a 30 per cent pay cut for staff. It removes pay protection for women doctors who have children, it reduces GP trainee salaries by 40 per cent and it penalises those who take time out of clinical work to do research. Still not convinced?

The attack on junior doctors is just one more blow to an exhausted and demoralised NHS already dangerously fragmented as widely predicted by the passing of the Health and Social Care Act in 2012.

Oxford Mail:

Alison Williams, deputy leader of Oxfordshire Green Party

No one is ever keen to go on strike – it is a last resort to help show how important the issue is.

After months of the British Medical Association (BMA) seeking to negotiate a settlement, those people who work in our health and caring services are being put in this position by a government which will do nothing to maintain a truly excellent nationalised health service.

Oxfordshire Green Party and many millions of people in this country wholeheartedly support the junior doctors in their industrial dispute with the government.

The new contracts ask junior doctors to work excessive, impossible hours and accept a 30 per cent reduction in the small extra payments they receive for doing unsocial hours and weekend work.

Their strike is an attempt to try to maintain a quality health service where individuals who work in the NHS can cope with the workload and we, the public, get the best service they can provide despite government cuts in the NHS budget.

The dispute is not about money, it is about contracts that will place extreme stress on individuals and endanger clear thinking.

My eldest son is a hospital doctor. He started working in the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford and much later, after qualifying, experienced the most stressful period of his working life when he was a junior doctor working weekends and nights.

He sometimes worked over 56 hours a week with incredible shift changes. There is no way that doctors and other health workers should have to compromise their own health in this way.

There was a reasonable settlement in 2012 between the government and the BMA but now the government has deliberately decided to impose new harsh contracts which could also drive many out of the profession.

A willingness by Jeremy Hunt, backed by David Cameron’s government to just impose the new contract rather than negotiate with the BMA, illustrates they are not interested in really making sure care in the NHS is of the best quality, nor are they interested in providing sufficient funding for this.

Junior doctors and all who provide professional and caring work in the NHS deserve our support and thanks.