Junior doctors row: GMC raises concerns over 'distress and alienation' levels


The doctors' regulator has raised concerns about the levels of "distress and alienation" among junior doctors as it called for an end to the bitter dispute between medics and the Government.

The General Medical Council (GMC), which oversees doctors' education and training as well as maintaining the register of doctors, said the matter is of "serious concern".

Strike action has been planned for April which will see junior doctors walk out for the first time in the history of the NHS.

Professor Terence Stephenson, the chairman of the GMC, said: "Senior members of the profession are very concerned about this latest action which the BMA feel they have to take and I am sure every doctor will reflect on our guidance.

"While we have no role in setting pay, terms and conditions for doctors, we are responsible for overseeing their education and training. The levels of distress and alienation that we see among them is a matter of serious concern to the GMC.

"This dispute in England must be resolved - and resolved soon - so that we can work together with doctors in training, employers and the profession across the UK to tackle the urgent and underlying issues that are beyond the contract negotiations.

"The decision to go ahead with the unprecedented withdrawal of emergency cover is a considerable escalation of the current industrial action and presents a significant challenge in making sure patients do not come to harm.

"The decision to take full industrial action will weigh heavily on the minds of doctors and it is important that we remind those who are taking action, those who are providing cover during the action and those with leadership roles of their respective professional responsibilities."

Earlier on Thursday Health Minister Ben Gummer told the House of Commons that junior doctors are holding the country to "ransom" with their plans for a full walkout over the imposition of a new contract.

He said: "We are in a very odd situation of being faced with a trades union that is escalating strike action despite having been consistent only in its refusal to negotiate on behalf of its members.

"The country cannot be held to ransom like this.

"At some point a democratically elected government must be able to proceed to fulfil the promises it has made to the people.

"Governments cannot be held hostage by a union that refuses to negotiate."

But shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander described the Government's position on the deal as "arrogant and dangerous in the extreme".

There will be a 48-hour strike starting at 8am on Wednesday April 6, with junior doctors providing emergency care only.

But on Wednesday the BMA said it had "no choice" but to "escalate" action planned for later in the month.

Strikes planned for April 26 and April 27 will see the full withdrawal of labour by junior doctors - everyone up to consultant level - between the hours of 8am and 5pm on both days.