The young doctors will probably win their fight

A real honest-to-goodness strike by young hospital doctors in the National Health Service, just like car factory workers of 50 years ago is now going to take place. Unlike working class strikes, this one by their middle class trade union, the British Medical Association, is a great deal more planned in advance.

They’ll strike straight through for five days starting on 12 September followed by 12 more paired days when they’ll strike during normal daytime hours. When middle-class people take action they don’t do it by halves!

It’s mainly about extra pay during nights and week-ends, particularly on Accident and Emergency services duty. The Health Minister has offered them 37% extra pay but this will not be paid monthly in terms of hours on duty but on complicated formulae which can’t be fully computed until a doctor has worked a full year. It’s a bureaucratic conceit and designed, of course, to notionally save money — though it probably wouldn’t because it would also necessitate more bureaucracy.

This is a case where the Minister, Jeremy Hunt, should not have been solely guided by his Department of Health officials but have also consulted with those who’ve had personal managerial experience with workers who go on strike.

Who will win the fight? It’s difficult to tell just at the moment. Much will depend on public reaction in the next few days. But probably the doctors.

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