Junior doctors are preparing to walk out over proposed changes to their contracts - which could lead to ‘inevitable’ disruption for patients in Eastbourne.
Following a ballot of more than 37,000 junior doctors in England, more than 99 per cent have voted in favour of industrial action short of a strike, and 98 per cent for full strike action.
The first strike which is set to affect East Sussex Healthcare Trust, which runs Conquest Hospital in Hastings, and Eastbourne DGH, will start on December 1.
A spokesman for the BMA, the doctors’ trade union, said: “While the BMA regrets the inevitable disruption that this will cause, junior doctors have clearly been left with no alternative due to the government’s continued threat to impose a contract that is unsafe for patients and unfair for doctors.”
The new contract proposes an 11 per cent rise in basic pay for junior doctors.
However, the number of hours during the week which are classed as ‘unsociable’ and therefore better paid – are being cut.
The government also proposes to scrap guaranteed pay increases, linked to time in the job, and replace them with a system where junior doctors progress through different stages in training.
Dr David Hughes Medical Director at East Sussex Healthcare Trust, said: “Following the ballot result, we fully expect our junior doctors to take industrial action in response to national issues relating to their contract and working hours.
“We anticipate their industrial action on the 8 and 16 December, when there is an all-out strike, will have a more significant effect on service delivery than the action to be taken on December 1. We hope that discussions between the BMA and government can be resolved before we get to that point.
“We have been and continue to be in close discussions with junior doctors representatives from the BMA about their action. We are developing contingency plans and are in discussion with our consultants on how they can help support the trust to ensure services are safely delivered during this period of industrial action.
“Our overriding objective during the industrial action is to ensure we continue to provide high quality and safe services to patients.”
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