Lincolnshire junior doctors strike for a fourth time as contract dispute intensifies

Junior doctors on strike in Lincolnshire for the fourth time in as many months have poured scorn on the new contract imposed by the government while urging members of the public to keep up their support.

The 48 hour strike began at 8am on Wednesday, April 6, as junior doctors continue their legal action against Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s decision to enforce hotly disputed changes to their pay and conditions.

Ten operations and 590 patient appointments have been cancelled across Lincolnshire’s hospitals, with increased disruption predicted at the end of April, when the junior doctors will refuse to provide emergency care for the first time.

Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Tom Smart, a junior doctor and local union representative for the BMA, described the contract as “discriminatory”.

He said: “Since the last strike, the government has released the actual contract and it’s as bad as we expected.

“Even the government’s own equality review says that it may well affect women more than anyone else. But it’s ok to discriminate against women as the government wants to push this through which is of course not acceptable.

“There has been a start among some Conservative MPs who have come out in the last 48 hours with their own personal reservations against the contract and I think they’ll hopefully mount some pressure within their own party.”

Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Dr Smart added that it will be “difficult” to gauge whether public support for the junior doctors is as strong now as it was at the start of the strikes.

But Hannah Williams, a locum based at Lincoln County Hospital, said: “The public have been consistent in their support of us and the strikes demonstrate that we aren’t going to give up. We are in this for the long haul.

“Everyone is seeing that this isn’t just about our contracts, it’s about the NHS which we all care about.

“Things are changing. The government is having to listen and they will have to listen more after the full walkout later this month.”

The next junior doctors’ strike is pencilled in for 48 hours from 8am on April 26, which will be the first time they withdraw their labour in full.