Junior doctors have begun their first strike in over 40 years, with a picket line outside the main entrance of Lincoln County Hospital from 8am on Tuesday, January 12.
Dozens of cars sounded their horns and gave the protesters the thumbs-up as they drove into work along Greetwell Road this morning.
Around 100 junior doctors are expected to have walked out in the county. More than 250 outpatient appointments and over 20 clinics have been cancelled.
The strike is the first of three planned over the next month, the second being Tuesday, January 26, followed by the first all-out doctors’ strike in NHS history scheduled for between 8am and 5pm on Wednesday, February 10.
Doctors have organised the industrial action in protest at Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s proposed changes to their contracts.
Chris Busby, a junior doctor at Lincoln County Hospital, said: “None of us want to be on strike today. We feel that the contract that the government is trying to impose on us is unsafe in the long run.
“We’ve been working very hard to try and get a contract that’s fair for doctors and safe for patients but unfortunately the government aren’t listening to us.
“Unfortunately the strike will be disruptive. However, there are safe levels of staffing but there are good numbers of doctors on site and studies have shown that mortality doesn’t go up during strikes so we feel with a heavy heart we’ve been forced into this situation.”
Those striking have not had the support of all Lincolnshire residents. One irate motorist was less impressed, and pulled up alongside the doctors to make clear his objections to the strike.
In a short outburst, the driver said that he was “disgusted” with the doctors and said he had “no patience with them.”
He added that he felt that they were being “egged on by Corbyn’s scum” and ‘bullied by the trade unions who were bringing back situations from the 1970s’.
Junior doctors attempted to put across their point of view to the man before he walked off.
Vanessa Djabatey, a fellow junior doctor at Lincoln County, said: “I’m on strike to support my fellow junior doctors in trying to get a fair contract for them and for patients which in the long-term will protect our NHS.
“The contract that the government is offering now does not provide the robust safeguards to make sure that our hours are monitored.
“Doctors would be overstretched, demoralised, under-supported and wouldn’t be able to give their best. That’s not fair to patients and it’s not fair on us.”
Jaren Mabbott, a year one foundation doctor at the hospital, added: “It’s a major change to our contracts. The threat of imposition by the government is completely unacceptable and in a democratic society I don’t think it’s the correct thing to do.
“I think that fair dialogue is important and I don’t think that the government has provided that so far during the negotiations.
“Patient safety is our number one priority and that’s why we’re out here today.”