UK

Junior Doctors Strike Explained By Great British Bake Off Star Tamal Ray Using Game Of 'Operation'

15/01/2016 11:19 GMT | Updated 15/01/2016 12:59 GMT

One of Britain's best-known junior doctors, who wowed us with his baking earlier this year, has given his take on the recent strikes.

Tamal Ray, a trainee anaesthetist who became a national hero after reaching the final on The Great British Bake Off, spoke on BBC's This Week programme about why he felt that the junior doctors strike was necessary.

tamal ray

Tamal Ray gave his view on the junior doctors strike

While playing a giant game of Operation, 28-year-old Ray explains: "It’s because I love [the NHS] that as a junior doctor I’m supporting the strike and here’s why.

"The government, playing on public fears of under-staffing, claims it wants to have a ‘seven-day NHS’.

"First, let me bust that myth. The NHS already offers free world-class emergency care, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Sure, if you want elective surgery - or the butterfly in your stomach removed on a Sunday lunchtime - you might have to wait a bit. But if you have a medical emergency you’ll always be seen.

operation game

Tamal uses the game Operation to explain the situation

"We’d love to provide a seven day elective service too but to do so would require a 40% increase in staffing and resources. Where’s the money for that going to come from?

"Also we’re in dangers of doctors have much more than just shaky hands if the government succeeds in removing financial penalties for hospitals which force their doctors to work unsafe rotas. These penalties are a vital protection against safe hours.

"Reclassifying normal working hours to include 7am-10pm on Saturday could see us working every Saturday of the year. That means never getting a weekend to see our family and friends.

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"We might be doctors, but we’re just ordinary people. We want the same thing as everyone else. Everyone has a breaking point and I feel like this contract might be pushing us towards ours.

"The government say this is all about doctors being greedy with their pay but it’s not. It’s about protecting a national interruptions and making sure our patients stay safe.

"There’s been a lot of spin but I think this is all about cutting costs in the NHS to make it easier for private companies to bid on, in which case, it’ll be the patients who lose out."

Talks are due to resume in a bid to break the stalemate in a long-running dispute over junior doctors' contracts as further strikes loom, the Press Association reported.

tamal

Tamal gained a huge fanbase on Bake Off

Discussions between the British Medical Association (BMA) and the Government were held on Thursday and are due to continue today.

Junior doctors staged a 24-hour walkout on Tuesday, leading to the cancellation of around 4,000 operations and thousands of appointments.

Two further strikes are planned - a 48-hour stoppage and the provision of emergency care only from 8am on Tuesday January 26, and a full withdrawal of labour from 8am to 5pm on Wednesday February 10.

The disagreement centres on changes to medics' pay and working conditions and the basis for the current round of negotiations is the Government's offer from early November, including an 11% rise in basic pay.

But this is offset by plans to cut the number of hours on a weekend for which junior doctors can claim extra pay for unsocial hours.

Neither side in the argument has made concessions in public, with the BMA warning there were still several issues to be resolved and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt condemning the strike as "wholly unnecessary".

tamal ray

Ray explained that there already is a seven-day NHS

"I cannot give an absolute guarantee but we are busting a gut to make sure every A&E department is able to function. We are going through hospital by hospital, we are doing detailed work to see whether we can fill the shifts that are not going to be filled by junior doctors and obviously our absolute priority is to keep patients safe," he said.

Asked if he would force doctors to accept the new contract which is at the heart of the dispute, Hunt said: "Of course legally we can do that, but I would rather agree this contract because I think it's something we should all agree – that we can have this promise to NHS patients that they can be confident of the same high-quality care every day of the week...

"We have said that if we can't solve this problem we have to deliver our manifesto commitment, and as a last resort we would move to the new contract. But we really hope that doesn't happen."

Watch Tamal Ray's full appearance on This Week


Junior Doctors Strike