Junior doctors at the Luton & Dunstable Hospital say they feel they had “no other choice” but to join colleagues across the country and take part in a two day strike.
Junior doctors walked out of routine and emergency care at 8am this morning and picketed outside the L&D before returning to work at 5pm.
Further strike action between the same hours is expected to take place tomorrow, as the British Medical Association and the Department of Health remain in conflict over planned changes to junior doctor contracts.
As a result of the two day industrial action the L&D has cancelled some planned procedures.
Speaking to the Luton News/Dunstable Gazette this morning, L&D junior doctor Abu Abioye said that the decision to strike had been made “with a heavy heart”.
Dr Abioye added: “Junior doctors are sad that we have had to escalate to this but we feel we have had no other choice but to do this.
“The government has got a political agenda that it is trying to push through despite the consequences to patient safety.
“We also want a seven day NHS but there need to be proper safeguards.”
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt described the industrial action as a “very, very bleak day” for the NHS, but added: “The reason this has happened is because the government has been unable to negotiate sensibly and reasonably with the BMA.”
Dr Abioye dismissed this, telling the Luton News/Dunstable Gazette: “I did not think it would get this bad but we have got to an impasse where we are not being listened to.
“We have given the government opportunites to do so but they have withdrawn and will not compromise.
“We feel they are being completely unfair.”
Fellow junior doctor Tim Sutton added: “Even as recently as yesterday Jeremy Hunt stood up in the House of Commons and said the seven day NHS is something he does not want to back down on and that’s something I agree with.
“The introduction of services which are consistent across the week is something which should be aimed for.
“But this contract for junior doctors does nothing to assist.
“It’s discriminatory towards women, towards doctors that have families and towards those in specialist work covering several different hospitals at once.
“And it’s discriminatory against people who want to work part time, who want to pursue either a family life or other interests such as research.
“If he wants a seven day NHS he needs to provide the appropriate funding to make it work, not to stretch an already full to bursting system even further.”