Junior doctors have been on strike this week, an astonishing thing to happen that, in itself, demonstrates the terrible political diplomacy that Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Health, has demonstrated as he attempted to push through his agenda.
Mr Hunt’s central talking point is that the policy he is pursuing is a manifesto commitment. In interviews he suggests that the British Medical Association (BMA) is attempting to block the manifesto commitment, and therefore the will of the British people.
That is not quite true, for several reasons. First, the manifesto pledge is for a so-called “7 day NHS”, the idea being that routine clinics and elective procedures should also take place at the weekends, when its more convenient for many people. The manifesto pledge only says that hospitals will be ‘properly staffed’, and nowhere does it say that this will be achieved by reducing the out-of-hours pay for doctors (achieved by re-defining late evening and Saturday work as normal working hours). It would have been an odd sort of voter who assumed that would be the case. Continue reading “No Plan, No Funds, No Staff”