JUNIOR Doctors are calling on people power to save the NHS which is on the brink of collapse over the Government's proposed changes to their contracts.
If the planned contract goes ahead next August, just a small proportion of Junior Doctors leaving the already over-stretched NHS will send it into meltdown, the chair of the British Medical Association's (BMA) Junior Doctors Committee, has said.
Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, Dr Johann Malawana, who has become the face of the Junior Doctors crisis, is urging you, the NHS's own patients to put pressure on the Government to re-negotiate the planned terms.
Doctors have been voting with their feet by signing the Express.co.uk petition to the Government, but now they are urging the public to do the same if they want to keep the NHS.
Under the new contract, Junior Doctors - any doctor below consultant level - will have their anti-social hours pay slashed as normal hours will be extended from 7pm to 10pm and to include Saturdays.
Their pay could be slashed by up to 30 per cent, but they are most concerned with the effect on patient safety as working more hours, exhausted, could mean mistakes are made - which could mean life-long implications for a baby, for example.
Yesterday the BMA, representing most of the 53,000 Junior Doctors, announced they will start balloting for industrial action over health secretary Jeremy Hunt "imposing" the contract on them "without negotiation”.
Johann Malawana is fighting for the NHS and its patients
Dr Malawana, an obstetrics registrar, told Express.co.uk: "We're doctors - having to deal with politics and talking about pay makes us very uncomfortable but it's come to the point where we have to if we're going to save the NHS we all love.
"Jeremy Hunt has refused to listen to us doctors so we need the public, for their own safety, to sign the petition and get in touch with their MPs to urge Mr Hunt to re-negotiate these frankly unsafe changes.
"Mr Hunt keeps telling the public we don't want to negotiate but he can't find anything in writing of us saying that - because we never have.
"We want to negotiate, to give Junior Doctors a better deal to ensure our patients are safe - but he is refusing.”
Junior Doctors are fed up with Mr Hunt's attacks on them
The 35-year-old father-of-one is visibly concerned about what the contract will mean for patients and the NHS as a whole.
He said: "When you come into hospital, you'll be met by a Junior Doctor, they'll treat you, they do everything - the NHS relies on them.
"I'm a doctor and I'm married to a doctor, we have a two-year-old son, and it's hard enough at the moment to bring up a family with both of us working at least 12-hours a shift.
"This contract means much more than just not seeing our children and partners.
"Many doctors are married to doctors or other healthcare staff - by increasing the normal working hours to 10pm, how are families going to get childcare until that time? And if they're being paid less for those extra hours, how will they pay for childcare?”
The Government spends the least amount of GDP on the NHS compared to other European countries
The BMA fears the new contract will especially disadvantage women as those who wish to take maternity leave or go part-time to start a family will see their pay rise more slowly than their peers.
Dr Malawana said the NHS, which is already on a knife-edge, will break if this happens due to the majority of Junior Doctors being women.
He said: "We cannot come to a point where the majority of Junior Doctors are forced to leave over an increased gender pay gap discrepancy. Maternity services, especially, would just not function."
The passionate doctor is continuing to urge Mr Hunt to return to the negotiation table but as it stands the Government is pushing ahead with "imposing" the contract on them.
Junior Doctors are all ages as they describe any doctor up to consultant level
Dr Malawana added: "Mr Hunt is doing everything he can to discredit us, he's scaring patients by consistently misleading them by saying there is a "weekend effect" - this is just not true.
"Junior Doctors work 24/7. In my department we have exactly the same number of doctors on whether it's a Wednesday or a Saturday - it wouldn't be safe otherwise.
"So, to say we don't work as hard as we do is making lots of doctors angry and upset.
"With Mr Hunt, it's not a lack of understanding, he's a clever man. He doesn't seem to worry about the facts getting in the way of politics.
"I just wonder what his end-game is because he's alienating a generation of Junior Doctors who the NHS and its patients rely on.”
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