Readers’ letters - October 8

Junior doctors are angry about the proposed new contract, see letter
Junior doctors are angry about the proposed new contract, see letter

Fury at new contract

The BMA’s decision to ballot members over potential industrial action is a reflection of the anger felt by thousands of junior doctors towards the Government’s plans to impose a new contract.

Doctors in the Wigan area believe the proposed contract is unsafe for patients, unfair for doctors and will undermine the future of the NHS. It will remove vital protections on safe working patterns, devalue evening and weekend work, and could have a real impact on the quality of patient care if we return to the days of over-exhausted junior doctors working dangerously long hours.

Around 3,500 doctors applied for a certificate to work abroad in just 10 days following the imposition of the new contract. This should serve as a serious wake-up call. If the Government force this contract through, there is a real risk that junior doctors will speak with their feet, which would be a disaster for the NHS, and for patients.

We have been clear. Junior doctors are not prepared to agree contract changes that risk patient safety and doctors’ wellbeing. No doctor takes the possibility of industrial action lightly, but we feel the government has left us with little option. We can only deliver a fair and safe contract if the government genuinely negotiates without a constant threat of imposition.

Dr Johann Malawana

BMA Junior Doctor Committee chairman

British Medical Association

Pensioners won’t forget

The North West’s largest older people’s organisation, the North West Regional Pensioners Association, called on the Taxpayers’ Alliance to apologise for remarks made by its research director, Alex Wild, during a fringe meeting at Conservative Party conference.

Mr Wild is reported to have said that the government could cut older people’s benefits such as the winter fuel allowance because many of those affected might “not be around” at the general election or would forget which party had taken the benefit away.

Mr Wild’s remarks are both politically cynical and personally offensive. It represents some of the most awful ageist nonsense I’ve heard in a long time.

He doesn’t consider the fact that the winter fuel allowance is essential because every year tens of thousands of older people die from the cold. Taking it away would just make this worse – but perhaps that’s what he wants.

He also suggests that younger people would support making their grandparents worse off. That’s all part of this phoney generation war that the TPA and others like to promote. Families care about each other, and grandparents often help out their grandchildren where they can.

Contrary to what he suggested, Mr Wild can be sure pensioners won’t be forgetting this in a hurry.

Derek Barton

Press officer for the NWRPA

Reusable bags better

Although I do agree with K D Ashton (WEP October 3) that shops distributing free paper bags are a good idea, I do wonder what all the general fuss is about regarding carrier bag charges.

5p is not extortionate by any means but the people who complain about this charge seem to forget that reusable bags can be bought for a very reasonable amount (depending on size and type of bag) and, if you buy a large one, or several smaller ones, there is no reason to part with money again for flimsy carrier bags.

It took me a while to remember to bring a reusable bag when shopping but I quickly grew to prefer them to the prone-to-breaking plastic bags. Easier to carry, stronger and fits more stuff in. So there is a win-win situation for those who bring their own bags. It should prove a winner for the environment too with less plastic floating around.

CJK, address supplied