Drivers honked and passers-by – including a consultant in his way to work – stopped to talk as junior doctors in Brixton went public with their campaign against new contracts the government is trying to impose on them.
Outside Lambeth Hospital, Dr Tom Dewhurst (second right in image), a psychiatrist and the British Medical Association (BMA) junior doctor rep for the hospital, explained that the doctors’ one-day strike was not primarily about money, but about patient safety and the future of the NHS.
“Tired doctors make mistakes,” he said, backed by colleagues picketing the hospital.
The BMA says the government’s proposed changes will spread existing staffing levels across a seven-day working week and remove safeguards against over-work and exhaustion.
Brixton resident Laura Connell-Jones said there was already a recruitment crisis that would be made worse by the proposed changes.
The pickets at Lambeth, a mental health hospital, said the effects on their work in particular would mean the loss of vital continuity for their patients as doctors were fitted into erratic shift patterns.
The changes would also mean less pay for doctors like psychiatrists who are not necessarily based permanently at a single hospital site. They would also penalise doctors who took time out for research or to have a family.
The doctors, including Leah Jones and Mary Thornton who work at the Lambeth Drug & Alcohol Service in Brixton, also leafleted and spoke to interested passers-by outside the Tube station.