Hospitals face a crisis with a potential exodus of well-trained staff who plan to work abroad, a packed Lewes meeting was told this week.
Dr Rob Galloway, an A&E consultant, informed the Lewes Labour Party meeting that many medical students and junior doctors he now spoke to were considering working overseas, as the government tries to force through new contracts.
He said that using temporary doctors to cover staff shortages was more expensive and less effective than keeping staff trained working in substantive posts.
The meeting on April 4 was organised to learn about the junior doctors’ opposition to the new contract that penalises some of them with pay cuts for working weekends, and creates a contract which medics say is unsafe and could put safety at risk.
Dr Galloway added: “The weekend junior doctor cover is the same as the weekday for emergency services. Some people are now waiting to Monday with serious conditions because they believe what they read.”
He said people needed to know that to provide routine ‘elective’ services at the weekend would require more staff and funding.
Philippa Thompson, Chair of Lewes Constituency Labour Party, added: “The meeting unanimously supported the NHS and opposed Jeremy Hunt’s appalling handling of this issue and his utter disrespect for dedicated and hard-working doctors and nurses.
“How can people have a life if the Conservative Government does not respect weekends as being different to weekdays? They are robbing us all of our happiness, rest, relaxation, exercise, family gatherings, connection with others and wellbeing. Health is not just about stitching people up, it also covers employment patterns and justice to have a fair deal on weekend working. Doctors and nurses work weekends, but weekends need to be recognised as different to weekdays. We will be supporting pickets this week and any in the future.”
The meeting also heard from economists James Meadway and Ann Pettifor, who are advisers to the Labour Party leadership. They spoke about new models of economic policy and reverse cuts in investment in vital public services like health, education and emergency services. They welcomed grassroots campaigns like the Lewes Living Wage Campaign and the campaign to make Lewes a TTIP-free town.
The next Lewes Labour Party event, on May 9 at the Phoenix Centre, will see author Andrew Simms discuss climate change.
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