A support group has been set up in Wythenshawe to back junior doctors who began their fifth strike this morning over changes to their contact.
Speaking on the picket line outside Wythenshawe Hospital, Dr Steven Churchill welcomed the move and said he was overwhelmed with the level of support from the public.
This week’s stoppage is an all-out strike which sees the withdrawal of emergency cover for the first time in the long-running dispute over pay and working conditions.
Junior doctors are still enjoying support from the majority of the general public according to a poll by IPSOS commissioned by the BBC. The poll also found that a majority blame the government for the dispute.
The British Medical Association, which represents the doctors,said the strike could have been averted with a return to talks with the Department of Health, if had health secretary, Jeremy Hunt lifted the threat of an imposed contract on the medics.
Dr Churchill told the Wythenshawe Reporter the NHS would “crumble”if the contract went ahead, with an exodus of staff because of the new conditions.
Currently, junior doctors are paid more for working unsocial hours at night or at the weekend, but under the imposed new contracts, the Saturday day shift will be paid at a normal rate in return for a rise in basic pay.
Silas Nicholls, Deputy Chief Executive and Chief Operating Officer, University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust (UHSM), said: “Our top priority, at all times, is the safety and care of patients and UHSM has robust plans in place to ensure patients who need urgent or emergency care will continue to be seen and treated as quickly as possible.
“Any patient scheduled to have treatment at UHSM on Tuesday 26th April and Wednesday 27th April and directly affected by this planned industrial action will have been notified of plans. All postponed appointment or operations will be rearranged. If you have a query regarding your appointment please call 0161 291 5197.”
The striking doctors are supported by local campaigners and councillors and strikers are urging people to lobby MPs and sign petitions.
— Cllr Chris Webb (@CllrChrisWebb) 26 April 2016
The Wythenshawe support group is contacting reps from other unions in the hospital and hope to hold meetings in the hospital and the local community. A Facebook page will also be set up soon.
Strikers and supporters will march from Manchester Royal Infirmary at lunchtime for a rally at Albert Square.