Labour have announced that they will use Parliament’s session next Wednesday to debate junior doctor contracts. Heidi Alexander tweeted saying the contract must be ‘safe’ and ‘fair’ for doctors and patients.
In a statement, she offered further comments: “Jeremy Hunt’s handling of the junior doctor contract negotiation has caused unnecessary anger. With morale in the NHS already at rock bottom, it is now a real threat to the recruitment and retention of NHS staff.”
Labour were able to call the debate as next Wednesday is a designated ‘Opposition Day’ – days assigned to non-governing parties to discuss topics they feel are important. In a move which will please the citizens of Redcar, Scunthorpe and Rotherham amongst others, Labour have elected to discuss the ongoing crisis in the steel industry as well.
The debate is the latest in a string of Parliamentary activity on the issue. 44 MPs signed an Early Day Motion condemning the contract offered by NHS Employers. The motion has earned cross-party support with Labour, SDLP, DUP, SNP and Green MPs signing it. No Tories have signed the motion, though x-health minister Dr Dan Poulter and Dr Sarah Wollaston, the respected chair of the Health Select Committe, have publicly condemned the new contracts in the past.
It will be interesting to see whether Jeremy Hunt will attend the session, having avoided an emergency debate on the financial state of the NHS earlier this year.