Jeremy Hunt has, this week, shown his utter contempt for those on the front line of medicine within the NHS, and if he is allowed to continue, then nursing staff will be next on his agenda.
Over 50,000 Junior Doctors joined together to oppose Hunt’s plans for their future contracts, in which he has decided that working a Saturday is no different to working on any other day of the week. Hunt has removed unsociable hours pay for junior medics on Saturday despite opposition and repeated attempts at negotiation, and he has his sights set on doing the same to nurses.
Under Agenda for Change, nursing staff are paid a 30% enhancement on top of their normal hourly rate to work on a Saturday, but with a similar enhancement for junior doctors wiped out in one swoop, there is nothing to stop Hunt from removing that “benefit” from nurses.
The junior doctor strike saw over 3,000 routine operations cancelled last week, and yet Hunt saw fit to run roughshod over medics and impose his new contract regardless. New doctors qualifying this summer will be on the contract, as will those starting new posts (moving from F1 to F2 – the old House Officer to Senior House Officer progression route) and it is estimated that almost 80% of doctors will be on this new deal within a year.
Public support has been incredible for junior doctors, but Hunt has carried on regardless.
He must be stopped.
Nursing unions need to stand tall, and nurses need to back the actions put forward should our contracts come under attack – because it won’t just be our Saturday enhancements that Hunt wants to steal from us.
There have already been utterances in the media that ALL unsociable hours pay should be withdrawn from NHS nurses, and the student nurse bursary is already under attack. We must be ready for him when he comes waging war on our way of living.
More strike action would send public opinion of the oft-mispronounced Secretary of State even further into the basement, and if our unions – and our opposition MPs – continue to push against him, then there is every chance nurses can avoid the same fate as our medical colleagues.
Jeremy Hunt has already written a thesis on how he sees the privatisation of the NHS moving forward, his plans are clear.
But they must be stopped, and we must be prepared to take action when necessary.