Government spin and smears will do nothing to break junior doctors’ resolve in fighting for fairness and restoration of pay, doctors leaders warned at a BMA-organised rally.
Doctors will not ‘roll over’ and remain determined to fight in the face of ministers’ refusal to engage with the BMA over full restoration of pay, association JDC co-chair Vivek Trivedi told a packed and defiant crowd of junior doctors gathered outside Downing Street last Friday on (11 August).
The rally, which took place on the first day of the fifth round of industrial action by juniors across England, saw more than 100 hundred doctors bearing placards and BMA flags gather just a stone’s throw from No.10.
Following a day of picket lines being staged at hospitals up and down the country, those gathered in central London showed no signs of turning or tiring despite prime minister Rishi Sunak and health secretary Steve Barclay’s continued denials over re-opening talks with the association.
Among those attending the rally were F1 doctors, the newest recruits to the medical profession whose very first action as doctors was being forced to strike for their pay and working conditions.
Hemmed in by the Whitehall traffic and amid boisterous chants calling for pay restoration and the supportive hoots of passing motorists, the rally saw JDC co-chairs Rob Laurenson and Vivek Trivedi take to the stage to thank and fire up their colleagues.
No-one giving up
Dr Trivedi, who had made the journey to London from Manchester on the back of working a nightshift at his trust, said that doctors were no longer willing to put up with empty words from a government that had spent more than a decade abusing the medical profession's goodwill.
He said that rather than meeting with the BMA to find a way forward, the Government was trying to ignore reality in the hope that thousands of junior doctors in England would simply ‘give-up’ in their struggle for fair pay, while adding that the fight was far from over.
He said: ‘We’re here yet again to fight for what we’re worth, to show this government that we will not roll over [and] to show Sunak that his words about a “final offer” are meaningless.
‘For 15 years the government has undervalued us, they’ve ignored us they’ve abused us they’ve exploited us and they’ve inflicted pay cut, after pay cut after pay cut.
‘Sunak has the audacity to suggest that this “final offer” ends our dispute but make no mistake, our dispute is far from over. He wants you to give up and accept another pay cut. He wants you to think that he has the power and not you as doctors.
‘He can say what he wants but we will continue to strike and fight for ourselves, for our colleagues and for our whole profession.’
The latest round of industrial action by junior doctors in England will continue until 15 August, with BMA members urged to return their ballots over whether to renew the mandate for continued strikes due by the end of this month.