Junior doctors striking across Bournemouth and Poole yesterday claimed the action was “about patient safety, not pay”. 

The strikes were the first of their kind in 40 years and saw hundreds of outpatient appointments as well as almost 30 operations cancelled across the conurbation. 

Bournemouth Echo:

Dozens of medics picketed outside Bournemouth and Poole hospitals, holding signs aloft with slogans including “tired doctors make mistakes”. 

The new contract offered to junior doctors includes an 11 per cent increase in basic pay. However, the British Medical Association says it fails to address demands to ensure patient safety or give proper rewards to those working overnight and at weekends.

Dr Damian Mayo, a 37-year-old surgical registrar at Poole Hospital, told the Daily Echo he works up to 110 hours across a nine-day period. 

“People at my level are striking purely on the safety aspect,” he said. “For us it is not about pay because the pay terms and conditions do not affect us as registrars. The contract is aiming to change the way that the rota is set out in terms of shift patterns and remove the safeguards around working hours.”

His colleague, Dr Vicky Gunn, said: “It’s like having the speed limit but no speed cameras or penalty points.”

She said that under-pressure surgeons often work day and nights with minimal breaks, adding: “Thinking of my mum or dad or grandmother being operated on by someone who has been up that long is scary.”

Bournemouth Echo:

Dr Joshua Gaon, a second year doctor at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital, said the walk-out had been done with a “heavy heart”. 

“We’ve tried to avoid this through ballots, through writing letters to our MPs, by putting petitions online,” he said. “We feel this is a very unsafe contract being imposed on us.”

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has urged the BMA to return to the negotiating table and called the strikes "unnecessary".