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Ben Birchall/PA Wire
UK News

Bishop criticises government over doctor's strike: "It shouldn't have come to this"

by Antony Bushfield

Rt Revd Nick Baines of Leeds told Premier there were "clashing ideologies" in the dispute.

Ben Birchall/PA Wire

Junior doctors in England walked out on strike at 8am on Tuesday and for the first time ever have withdrawn all labour, including emergency care.

The government is in dispute with the British Medical Association (BMA) about new contracts which would change the way overtime is calculated.

BMA officials have defended the two-day walkout, repeating their stance that they will call off the strike if Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt agrees to lift his threat to impose the contract.

Mr Hunt has rejected this offer but wrote to the head of the BMA, Dr Mark Porter, over the weekend calling for an urgent meeting to discuss some parts of the deal.

He said lives were being put at risk and the "extreme action" was "deeply worrying for patients".


It's the first time junior doctors have withdrawn all labour, but hospitals are reassuring patients more senior doctors will take over care.

They will refuse to work in emergency care, including A&E, maternity services, emergency surgery and intensive care.

Bishop Nick, who is the duty bishop in the House of Lords this week, told Premier: "No, it shouldn't have come to this but you have clashing ideologies.

"Whether it will be resolved soon, I have no idea, I wouldn't be optimistic."

A key issue in the dispute is around weekend pay. The new, imposed contract cuts the pay offered to doctors at weekends but increases basic pay.

During the walkouts, junior doctors will refuse to work in emergency care, including A&E, maternity services, emergency surgery and intensive care.

Tom White/PA Wire

Melody Redman, a junior doctor in York and a Christian, told Premier she had no choice: "I belive that Jesus would absolutely love the NHS.

"The NHS teaches us to treat people regardless of their ability to pay and to treat all people as equals, even if they've done something that could contribute to their illness.

"The values that the NHS has is something I feel very strongly that we should maintain and something really wonderful in our society.

"For me the main issue is that I feel cannot stand back and let a contract that I strongly believe will be detrimental to the NHS to go ahead.

"So for me it's important that as a Christian I take a stand.

"I do believe that senior doctors are able to provide the emergency care."

Head of the BMA Dr Mark Porter rejected the accusation that lives will be at risk, saying: "The Health Secretary is trying to find some way to throw mud at the junior doctors of this country who have been providing weekend and night emergency cover since the NHS started."

Listen to Premier's Hannah Tooley speaking to Melody Redman:

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