Over the last few weeks, Norman Lamb has been speaking out in support of junior doctors regarding the ongoing dispute over the junior doctors’ contract.
The Conservative Government has recently proposed a number of changes to the pay and working practices of junior doctors, claiming that the current contract is acting as a barrier to a seven-day service in the NHS – even though there is no evidence that this is actually the case.
Junior doctors are extremely concerned that the changes proposed by the Government will disadvantage junior doctors who work regular weekend and night shifts, increase the risk of doctors being overworked, and discriminate against doctors who choose to work less than full time, including many women who choose to step back from full-time work in order to start a family. This is all happening at a time when the NHS is already suffering from staff shortages and low morale.
Norman spoke up for junior doctors during a debate in the House of Commons, criticising the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt for pursuing these plans and warning that there may be a mass exodus of junior doctors from the NHS if they feel undervalued by the new contract. He added:
“I met some junior doctors yesterday and found them all to be very passionate and completely dedicated to the NHS. I found them to be not driven and motivated by pay. I have to say to the Secretary of State that junior doctors find it frankly insulting to be told that they have been misled by the British Medical Association [over the impact of the contract]. They are intelligent enough to make up their own minds, and they have done.”
You can read Norman’s entire speech here.
After the debate, Norman wrote to the Health Secretary to challenge his “pledge” that not a single doctor working up to 56 hours a week will suffer a pay in their cut. In his response, however, Jeremy Hunt refused offer any assurances for the many junior doctors who legally work beyond these hours.
You can read Norman’s letter, and the Health Secretary’s response, here.
Jeremy Hunt’s latest offer to junior doctors fell far short of addressing these concerns, and the BMA will now press ahead with balloting their members over potential strike action. Urging the Health Secretary to resolve the situation, Norman said:
“It is essential Jeremy Hunt takes meaningful steps to address the legitimate concerns of junior doctors. I sincerely hope that strike action can be avoided, and that the Government and the BMA Junior Doctors’ Committee can negotiate a new contract which offers the best deal for junior doctors and the public.
“In the long run, I am concerned that this dispute will lead to many hardworking and talented NHS staff leaving the NHS unless the Government is able to achieve a satisfactory resolution.
“This dispute reflects wider problems of staff and resource pressures in the NHS, which the Government must do more to resolve. In the debate in the Commons, I repeated my call for a non-partisan fundamental review of NHS and social care funding, as proposed in the Liberal Democrats’ 2015 manifesto. I hope that the other parties will work with me to ensure a sustainable future for our NHS.”
Norman Lamb is calling on the Government to take urgent action by investing extra resources in adult social care, following new research which highlights a serious care crisis for people with disabilities.
The new research released today by Scope, the disability charity, shows that some disabled social care users are waiting up to 14 hours to go to the toilet, sleeping in their clothes, and unable to eat or wash, while many are left socially isolated and unable to work or look for a job because of a lack of support.
More than half of disabled people using social care aren’t getting the support they need to live independently, while 83% said that they don’t have enough hours in their care package.
Commenting, Norman Lamb said: “It is simply unacceptable that some of the most vulnerable people in society are being let down and left to fend for themselves due to a lack of support.
“People with disabilities deserve to live with dignity just like anybody else. This means having the right support to allow them to participate in society and live as independently as possible.
“Carers up and down the country are doing a wonderful job, working long hours and often in very difficult circumstances. But we all know that the system is under severe strain as a result of chronic underinvestment.
“Now that the Conservative Government has abandoned the cap on care costs, which I secured as Care Minister at the Department of Health, many families are also worried about how they will be able to afford the spiralling costs of care over the next few years.
“Extra funding is critical to improve support for people with disabilities, and the Government must ensure a fair deal for social care in the upcoming Spending Review. I am also calling on the Government once again to reverse its u-turn and introduce a cap on care costs from April 2016.”
The full findings, together with the stories of disabled people using social care, are available at: www.scope.org.uk/social-care
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