Junior Doctors’ Dispute Continues

This is a significant dispute, which could be used in a variety of ways for your politics course.

Firstly, Unit 1 Pressure Groups:

Clearly this is an example of strikes being used as a means of influencing policy. The current strike is due to last two days and includes the withdrawal of emergency care. It is worth noting that the ambulance workers are now threatening to strike too.

However, it also poses interesting questions about the BMA – we often cite the BMA as a classic ‘insider’ group which enjoys close relationships with the government and exerts considerable influence; can we still class it as an ‘insider’?

Furthermore, certain figures in the government have taken to denouncing the strike action as ‘political’ and making dark comments about how wrong it is that a union should try to prevent the government from carrying out its manifesto commitments – this could be used as evidence for those that argue pressure groups are undemocratic. (It is worth noting that there have been a few individuals within the BMA that have made comments on social media about bringing down the Conservative government through strike action, but they are a small minority.)

Secondly, Unit 1 Political Parties:

The Labour Party is slightly divided over this issue – both Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell have joined the picket lines or made speeches supporting the junior doctors’ action but shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander said she would not join the picket lines and that ‘patients want to see politicians working together to find a constructive solution’ – certainly not a major division, but one that highlights (again) the differences between Corbyn and the majority of his parliamentary party.

The Conservative Party is also not wholly united on this issue. Hunt has faced questions in the Commons over his handling of the dispute e.g. former GP Liam Fox feels that the government has not communicated the issues clearly (although he does agree that the strike is unjustified). Furthermore, Labour MP Heidi Alexander (as above) proposed a compromise whereby contracts would not be imposed and limited trials would be carried out, which had cross party support including Dr Dan Poulter, Conservative MP, which the government rejected.

Lastly, Unit 3 Welfare – management of the NHS and the Conservative government’s priorities.

The Independent article here explains the detail of the dispute well: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/junior-doctors-strike-a-and-e-emergency-care-still-be-available-bma-british-medical-association-a6999366.html

 

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