Save Our NHS! As women with disabilities and patients
we support junior doctors, NHS students and staff

The government wants to impose a contract on junior doctors to work even longer hours, which they refused as they are already pushed to the limit. The latest contract on offer is worse than before, say Dr Manish Verma and Dr Will Rook, e.g. Saturday and Sunday till 9pm would be treated as usual working hours. Junior doctors will be voting to accept or reject the deal in a referendum from 17 June-1 July.

The government plans to axe the NHS bursary (student grant) from August 2017. This applies to student nurses, midwives, speech and language therapists, radiologists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, mental health nurses... 

The government is trying to divide patients from doctors, but we support the junior doctors all the way until they win!   The community backs them, and support is growing from other public sector workers like firefighters, teachers, transport workers and civil servants. The junior doctors are defending nurses and other NHS staff who are next in line for worse pay and conditions. 

As women with disabilities and as patients, we support junior doctors and NHS students & staff because:

·         Junior doctors, student nurses, midwives, occupational therapists are fighting for a caring NHS, defending free healthcare, and good treatment and working conditions for all of us.

·         As patients and relatives visiting patients, we see first-hand how short-staffed hospitals are already, and sometimes we have to look after our loved ones there. We need more nurses and doctors, and we need them to be rested and to have more time for patients, not less.

·         Junior doctors say longer working hours are not safe for patients. A specialist can be on call at night covering several hospitals, rush from one to another, do an emergency operation until 3am and then have to do a morning clinic as usual.  

·         77% of the NHS workforce are women. Doing care work shouldn't mean you get paid a low wage and have to work such long hours. Pay and conditions are bad because unwaged caring work, also done mainly by women, is not valued. What is more important than looking after people and saving people's lives? 

·         The new contract discriminates against mothers and other carers – many women have caring responsibilities for children, for people who are disabled or ill and cannot be available to work all the hours Jeremy Hunt wants to impose. Children are entitled to their mother’s love, and all of us are entitled to care. How dare Hunt tell women doctors to get more childcare! The British Medical Association (BMA) launched a legal challenge against this sexism. In reply, the government issued an equality impact assessment that discrimination is justified by the legitimate aim to provide the so-called “7-day NHS”. The same legal challenge pointed out discrimination against disabled doctors working shorter hours, which is a right in disability equality law.

·         Women junior doctors have told us how difficult it is to be a mother and have a family life with night and weekend shifts. We support the right to family life of all junior doctors.   

·         Immigrants make a massive contribution to the NHS. One in five nurses and one in three doctors is immigrant. (Daily Telegraph, 28 December 2015)

·         The government says patients are suffering so they can criticise the striking doctors and the NHS as a public service. But they don’t care about patient welfare – they've cut and sanctioned benefits for cancer patients and other sick and disabled people, leaving us destitute; and cut funding for homecare, leaving pensioners neglected and without heating and food – many thousands have died as a result.

·         The bursary for student nurses, midwives and occupational therapists must be kept or people who want to do those jobs but haven't got the money will be prevented from following their vocation.

·         NHS staff are against denial of medical treatment based on saving money -- decisions on people's life and health should not be made by managers who only care about budgets.

·         We agree with NHS workers who oppose NHS privatisation under the Health and Social Care Act 2012. Similarly, the Care Act 2014 allowed companies to take over care needs assessments, and escalated charging for care and break-up of services – direct payments for care can be another way to reduce services, support and safeguards for older and disabled people. Hunt and others talk about an “integrated health and social care system” – on what basis, and with whose welfare at heart? Not ours!

·         GPs like Dr Louise Irvine of Save Lewisham Hospital are against PFI, the private finance initiative which has put NHS trusts into debt by charging them extortionate rents – just like a private landlord. (Meanwhile, PFI investors got a payout from the companies profiteering from PFI.)

·         Doctors voted for BMA policy against the Work Capability Assessment and Atos.  We want to defend the medical professionals who have defended us. They are sometimes our only protectors against genocidal benefit cuts, especially if we don’t have friends or family to help us.

·         Junior doctors are worried about understaffing – unlike management who fired whistleblower Dr Chris Day for reporting how overstretched he and other doctors were.

·         Under budget cuts, we are given the bare minimum of services, with long waits for an occupational therapist (OT) assessment. If the government contracts and cut to OT bursaries go through, this will get worse.

·         We don’t get the mental health support we need in hospital or in the community.  Compulsory medication is often all we get, not talking therapies and support to address why we are in distress in the first place. We are sent hundreds of miles away from family and friends, young people are placed in adult wards. Deaths of mental health patients have increased as staffing has shrunk.

·         Profiteering pharmaceutical companies overcharge the NHS. They also attack alternative and complementary therapies which they don’t profit from, but which are often safer and more effective.

·         We want a caring society. We don’t accept jargon like bed-blocking which demeans and blames pensioners -- living longer and in good health is welcome, not a problem! 

·         We refuse to allow the destruction of the NHS. We defend those fighting to defend it.

·         We refuse austerity. There is plenty of money for wars that bring death, destruction and disability. We want it for the NHS and for all who need and provide care. 

SAVE OUR NHS!  NOT SAFE, NOT FAIR!

BURSARY OR BUST!

Compiled by WinVisible (women with visible & invisible disabilities)

win@winvisible.org   www.winvisible.org

020 7482 2496