This week, doctors on strike, alongside other protestors, gathered outside of the Sheldonian Theatre on Broad Street. The gathering was in conjunction with the national strike of Junior Doctors, which was called by the British Medical Association (BMA).
The strike in Oxford began with a picket line outside of the John Radcliffe Hospital, before moving onto the more visible Broad Street location.
Placards reading ‘Save our NHS’ and ‘NOT SAFE, NOT FAIR’ were displayed in relation to Jeremy Hunt’s proposed changes to junior doctors’ contracts, which the BMA has argued are unfair on doctors and compromise patient safety. Amongst the crowd were dozens of striking doctors wearing white scrubs and stethoscopes.
Two foundation doctors in their second year, Steph White and Rachael Fleming, told Cherwell, “Junior doctors did not want it to come to industrial action, but we are worried about the proposed plans for patients, us, and the NHS.”
NHS staffs were joined in their demonstration by sympathetic students and members of the public, including demonstrators from the Oxford University Labour Club.
Momentum Oxford, a successor organisation to Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour leadership campaign, also showed solidarity with today’s junior doctors taking industrial action in Oxford with about a dozen members present to show their support.
A spokesperson from Momentum Oxford told Cherwell, “we stood in solidarity with the junior doctors today because we believe this Tory government is trying to bully them into accepting a contract that is both unfair and unsafe.”
They added, “The overwhelming support for the strike amongst BMA members (98%) shows that Jeremy Hunt is unambiguously in the wrong: these are people committed to serving those in need, and they would not strike unless forced to do so. With Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party, we call on Hunt to change his position, and end his attacks on the NHS.”
Dr. Mark Toynbee, also in attendance, told Cherwell, “We are very pleased by the overwhelming public support by the picket and on broad street and hope that will be a basis for constructive progress.”