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'We’re here to support the junior doctors’.
That was the rallying cry from actor Stephen Mangan as he – and a host of other British comic icons – stepped off the number 186 bus to whoops and cheers at Northwick Park Hospital.
The Episodes star and other members of the cast, and the creator, of cult medical comedy Green Wing called for the Government to give junior doctors the contract they deserve – all while wearing fetching green scrubs at the hospital in north London where the show was filmed.
He was joined by co-stars Tamsin Greig, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Pippa Haywood and Oliver Chris, and creator Victoria Pile, on the picket line as all posed for selfies and reminisced about filming while speaking eloquently about the importance of junior doctors and a properly funded NHS.
While the amassed stars were serious in their messages of support, their comic instincts were never truly hidden, with anecdotes about disasters while filming on the hospital wards being recalled – and Greig puncturing an NHS balloon she was clutching by accident before quipping ‘it’s broken because we’re pulling the service in too many directions’.
Clutching a BMA banner, Mr Mangan told the BMA that he had ‘watched in horror’ as junior doctors had been left with no option but to take industrial action.
‘We’ve been looking as negotiations have been completely botched by the Government. If they want a good NHS and a safe one they need to listen to doctors.’
The award-winning actor whose work ranges from voicing Postman Pat to a fan-favourite appearance as Dan Moody in Alan Partridge added: ‘We filmed Green Wing here at Northwick Park Hospital and we realised that an awful lot of our NHS is run on the goodwill of these people. They are taken advantage of and we should treat them fairly.
‘I want to encourage Jeremy Hunt to sit down with junior doctors and talk to them. They are reasonable people and nothing like the characters we played – they are brilliant, and they are sensible.’
Co-star Julian Rhind-Tutt also ‘scrubbed up’ and spoke out in support of junior doctors.
The radio, TV and film star, said: ‘We got a very interesting insight into how a hospital works day by day [during the filming of Green Wing] and we have seen the pressure these staff are under.
‘These people aren’t just concerned about pay, this is about the whole future of the NHS and what it means in society to be a doctor. There’s a bigger picture. It’s about what we think of the NHS and cherishing it.’
And The Office’s Oliver Chris – who plays junior doctor Boyce in the Green Wing – added: ‘I think the Government has a tough job balancing the books and budgets but they must understand the needs and requirements of these people who contribute so much to society.
‘These negotiations have been blithe in the extreme and to just impose that contract is just not a way to negotiate.’
Staff were joined by patients and supporters at 147 pickets across the country as the first day of the current industrial action took place on Wednesday.
The industrial action was taken, for the fourth time, after the Government chose to impose the new junior doctor contract, and refused to address or negotiate on key outstanding concerns about the fairness of the contract or the sustainability of services.
The BMA is fighting for a contract that is fair for all junior doctors, recognises the unsocial hours they work, and ensures they feel valued and motivated, to retain the GPs and senior hospital doctors of the future.
Black Books and Friday Night Dinner star Ms Greig said junior doctors were ‘amazing’ and appealed for the Government to return to the negotiating table.
‘There’s huge public support for our doctors and for a strike that’s unusual,’ she said.
‘It’s an extremely stressful position to be put into as a young person in your 20s, they make decisions that can’t be undervalued; life-saving decisions. They train for many years and I think they are fantastic.’
The BMA has urged the government to lift the current imposition and give junior doctors a contract which makes them feel valued and motivated for both the short and long-term – with a recruitment crisis only likely to deepen if GPs and senior medics of the future leave these shores.
Foundation one doctors Sujan Sivasubramaniyam and Katherine Lattey, , who both work at Northwick Park, were delighted to see the Green Wing stars add their voices to the campaign.
Dr Sivasubramaniyam said: ‘It’s great to know there are people out there who support you.’
Dr Lattey added: ‘It’s great for morale that these people come out and feel strongly.
‘Morale on wards is not good. I love the NHS and I don’t want to leave but we are being forced out.
Green Wing writer Victoria Pile added: ‘We have a lot of contact with the NHS and we use their facilities and their good grace a lot. My niece is a doctor and the Government isn’t looking after them. We feel really strongly about this.
‘Our message is that we are here with [junior doctors] – they are not alone.’
Peter Blackburn is a senior staff writer for the BMA
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Stephen Mangan and other fellow actors participated in that peaceful protest of junior doctors that was truly impressive. All stars spoke eloquently about the properly funded NHS and the importance of junior doctors. I can <a href="luckynj.com/.../888-sportsbook">bet at 888sportsbook new jersey</a> now. Government should accept the reasonable demands of junior doctors because this is what people need.