By Molly Garlick and Joeann Murphy
Today we saw the start of a 48 hour junior doctor protest across the country, including Colchester General Hospital. Around 30 protesters stood outside the hospital on the picket line in support of the strike organised by the British Medical Association.
This is the first strike of it’s kind as the junior doctors have not only removed themselves from general care, but also from the emergency wards. This hasn’t been done in the whole of National Health Services’ 68-year history.
Everyone on the picket line was clear about their message. Rob Derrick, 32, who has been a junior doctor for five years said: “I would like to ask him, (Mr Jeremy Hunt) if he came in and needed an operation, would he want it done by me – when I’m absolutely knackered and have been working 70 hours a week and at 3 o’clock on a Saturday morning, or would he rather have me a little bit more fresh and able to actually give him the right drugs in the right order.”
This is the third of the three 48 hour organised strikes.
Stephanie Riding, 24, a foundation year one junior doctor, joined the picket line at 9am this morning. She believes that NHS staff are being spread thinly already and the length of shifts are unbelievably tiring. “Sometimes on a 9am until 9pm shift you won’t get a break until 5 in the evening and even then you only get half an hour.” she says.
“Very often, I have seen colleagues, and I have done it myself, where you’ll have written in the wrong notes or discharged somebody under the wrong patient’s name, thankfully I have been able to rectify these mistakes but it’s worrying how tired you actually get,”
“We are just human; yes we know we made the sacrifice and yes we did sign up for this but we did not sign up to have our contracts changed like this, you can’t just implement these changes like a dictator and expect us to be okay with it.”
The protester held up many signs with comments like, ‘Lets be blunt, do u trust Hunt?’ and ‘NHS not Hunts to sell’ are just a few of many.
Charlie Mukherjee, 31, Medical and Geriatric Registrar has been in the profession for 7 years and has been particularly affected by the Government’s changes throughout the years. He says: “Recruitment is bad and it’s getting worse, year on year there are more gaps in rotas and less staff to fill them,”
“I have had friends in this profession who have upped and left to Australia, who have gone to the city to pursue other avenues of in command, other friends who, on the way back from a night shift, not made it home.” Mr Mukherjee continues.
There was much public support shown at the picket line throughout the day, with many drivers pressing their horns as they pass. Many of which stopped with gifts of food for the protesters.