Junior doctors' dispute: Who will break first?

  • 27 April 2016
  • From the section Health
Chain breaking Image copyright Thinkstock

Two things have become clear during the first ever all-out doctors' strikes. One, with good planning hospitals can cope for a few hours without junior doctors.

And, two, this is going to be a fight to the bitter end. While consultants and nurses were stepping into the void left by the striking junior doctors, both sides have been briefing about how determined they are not to give ground.

But who will break first? Ministers or doctors?

The government now sees this as a point of principle which it cannot lose. They have been telling journalists how they believe elements in the British Medical Association have made this into a political strike. Their goal? To force the dismissal of Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and the fall of the entire government, sources say.

Some have even likened it to this government's miners' strike moment. They have claimed other unions are watching what happens "like hawks". It is, they say, a dispute that now must be won at all costs.

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Are all-out strike days actually going to be safer?

  • 25 April 2016
  • From the section Health
Doctor running Image copyright Thinkstock

The warnings about the forthcoming all-out junior doctor strikes have been coming in so thick and fast that you could be forgiven for thinking it will be Armageddon.

NHS England medical director Sir Bruce Keogh says he worries they will put vulnerable people "at risk", while chief medical officer Dame Sally Davies says they will "inevitably lead to patients suffering" and Health Minister Ben Gummer claims they will be put in "harm's way".

Read full article Are all-out strike days actually going to be safer?

Chorley A&E closure: A cautionary tale?

  • 14 April 2016
  • From the section Health
A/E nurses Image copyright SPL

The problem with central dictats is they can have unintended consequences in an organisation as large as the NHS.

When ministers in England last year announced they were going to cap how much hospitals could pay agency staff, they felt they had found a solution to a factor increasingly cited as a cause of the financial problems engulfing the health service.

Read full article Chorley A&E closure: A cautionary tale?

Dawn of the nanny state?

  • 28 March 2016
  • From the section Health
Measuring obesity Image copyright Science Photo Library
Image caption Three-quarters of middle-aged men are overweight or obese

The government certainly seems to be on a mission to get people in England healthier, if the recent flurry of announcements is anything to go by.

Last week, it was supervised gym sessions for people at risk of type-2 diabetes.

Read full article Dawn of the nanny state?

Will consultants take the scalpel to Hunt?

  • 18 March 2016
  • From the section Health
Scalpel Image copyright Thinkstock

Sooner or later the government in England will table an offer to consultants to reform their contract.

British Medical Association negotiators will then, in all likelihood, ask the union's members what they think - and that could set in train a process that could make or break not just the junior doctors' dispute but also Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt's approach to the NHS.

Read full article Will consultants take the scalpel to Hunt?

Sugar tax: How bold is it?

  • 17 March 2016
  • From the section Health
Cola Image copyright Thinkstock

The announcement by Chancellor George Osborne that a tax on sugary drinks is to be introduced in the UK came as a surprise - ministers had spent months suggesting they were against the idea. But just how bold is it?

There are two ways of looking at it. Firstly, the government has made a pretty radical step. Only a handful of countries have introduced such a levy and for a right-of-centre administration to do so is quite remarkable, and shows a strong commitment to tackling child obesity.

Read full article Sugar tax: How bold is it?

How ripple effect of doctor row could be toxic

  • 7 March 2016
  • From the section Health
Drop in water Image copyright Thinkstock

The ante has certainly been upped in the increasingly acrimonious dispute between junior doctors and the government in England.

Wednesday sees medics stage a walk-out for the third time - with two more stoppages to follow next month - while lawyers prepare a legal challenge to fight the imposition of the new contract.

Read full article How ripple effect of doctor row could be toxic

Is enough being spent on the NHS?

  • 25 February 2016
  • From the section Health
Money piles Image copyright Photobuay

The figures are eye-watering. Last week it emerged NHS trusts in England were overspent by £2.2bn at the three-quarter mark of this financial year.

By the end of March that figure could rise to close to £3bn. To put that into context, that's more than the entire unemployment benefits bill.

Read full article Is enough being spent on the NHS?

Was a deal over doctors' contracts ever possible?

  • 13 February 2016
  • From the section Health
Contract being ripped up Image copyright ChesiireCat

On Tuesday, the eve of this week's strike by junior doctors in England, the government's negotiating team made a last ditch attempt to break the deadlock with the British Medical Association.

Sir David Dalton, the highly respected boss of Salford Royal Hospital, who was brought in last month by ministers to try to arrange a deal, was accompanied by NHS Employers chief executive Danny Mortimer and Clare Panniker, the chief executive of Basildon and Thurrock NHS Trust.

Read full article Was a deal over doctors' contracts ever possible?

Junior doctors' row: Time for the nuclear option?

  • 10 February 2016
  • From the section Health
Fire button Image copyright Thinkstock

News that junior doctors have rejected a final "take-it-or-leave-it" offer from the government in the contract dispute means the nuclear option - imposition - is now a real possibility.

Over the past week ministers and their officials in England have been putting real thought into how and when they should make their move. Given the latest developments, expect it any day.

Read full article Junior doctors' row: Time for the nuclear option?