Mail lets Jeremy Hunt off the hook over doctors' stirkes
‘How dare the doctors barter lives for cash’, fumed the Daily Mail leader column headline today, as junior doctors announce a week of strikes in mid-September.
The Mail accused the British Medical Association of using ‘mealy-mouthed language’ in saying it regrets the impact of this on patient care:
“Why don’t they come straight out with it and say: ‘Give us more money – or else we’ll let people suffer and die’?”
The paper adds darkly, ‘For make no mistake. If these stoppages go ahead … it will be only a matter of time before the body-count begins’, and concludes:
‘The doctors’ decision to barter lives for cash drags their profession into deep disgrace.’
This is all very misleading.
First, it makes no mention of the obvious fact, agreed by all, that the root cause of the dispute is Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s decision to impose new contracts on junior doctors – contracts which 58 per cent of BMA members voted to reject after renewed negotiations in July.
The BMA has made it clear that the strikes will be called off if Hunt agrees not to impose the contracts.
If the Mail is so concerned about patient safety, why doesn’t it urge the Health Secretary to do what is within is power, and end the strikes with a word?
Unless of course, this is more about taking a hard line against trade unions than patient safety. Perish the thought!
Speaking of which, recent NHS leaks show ‘workforce overload’ is a major internal concern about Hunt’s promised ‘truly seven-day NHS’ without extra funding or staff.
The impact of these contracts on patients’ safety (and doctor recruitment) is precisely the issue junior doctors have raised from the start of the dispute.
It may come as a surprise to the Daily Mail, but junior doctors want to save lives, not ‘barter them for cash’.
MediaWatch is Left Foot Forward’s progressive take on the press and broadcast mediaSign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.