On Tuesday, January 12, I joined the junior doctors’ picket at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital for a couple of hours before visiting my husband, who is a patient at the moment. I was very happy to show my support – and on behalf of my husband.
I have seen over the past few months during my husband’s spells in hospital just how hard these doctors and other health care staff work, 24/7.
The government wants to impose changes on the doctors’ contracts which will result in the removal of vital safeguards that prevent junior doctors from having to work dangerously long hours. Junior doctors already work very long hours with massive amounts of responsibility.
These changes are not being imposed in Wales or Scotland where a truly national health service still exists. If the contracts are imposed doctors would not have to emigrate to seek better working conditions.
The UK is already experiencing difficulties recruiting doctors from other countries, such as the Indian sub-continent, and the new contracts would only make the position worse.
If Mr Hunt is genuine about wanting to improve 24-hour seven-day-a-week care in the NHS in England then he will need to increase funding – not just to pay for more doctors and nurses, but also to reinstate the 24/7 Walk-in Centres closed in the last five years, re-open the scores of A&E departments closed or downgraded in the last five years and reinstate the 24/7 NHS Direct service.
He will also need to reinstate the almost £1bn cut in GP budgets which is threatening even a five-day a week GP service.
Rather than improving the service, the changes to doctors’ contracts would put patient care and even the existence of the NHS at risk. I am grateful to the NHS especially for the care it has given my husband over the past 12 months.
However, this is only due to doctors, nurses and other health staff working hard to overcome the damage of increasing fragmentation and privatisation of our health service in England.
Our parents’ generation created the NHS.
As long as we have breath in our bodies we will fight to retain the NHS for future generations.
Sue and Gordon Dockett,
Town ‘Santas’ so generous
On behalf of the March Lions and the Rotary Club of March I would like to thank the many citizens of our town who so generously and freely contributed to the Santa’s Sleigh journey around the streets of March in December.
In fair weather, and foul, people waited patiently for the sleigh to pass by. A cheery ‘Ho Ho’ from the Gentleman in Red, forewarned of the approach.
From wide-eyed youngsters to grandparents, they gave what they could spare. A couple of pence here, a couple of £’s there.
I know that the combined ‘boys and girls’ of our two clubs had enjoyable, even if damp, walking tours of the back streets.
The total sum raised, £1,600, was divided equally between four local groups, and nominated by our united clubs – Young People March, March Solo Bereaved support group, EDDIES (formerly Mencap) and Magpas Helimedix.
Each of these attended a presentation at the Town Hall. Cheques were presented by local MP Steve Barclay, as my photograph shows.
Remember, the money you gave has stayed ‘in the town’. This year we hope to expand our routes, and look forward to seeing you all again early in December.
Rotary Club of March.