Junior doctors began a 48-hour strike today in protest at the government’s imposition of a dangerous new contract. Chris Burridge-Barney, representing Exeter Socialist Students at a picket outside the Royal Devon & Exeter hospital, explained “The new contract will remove penalties for employers which make their employers work too many hours.  Without this safeguard, there’s a huge risk that doctors will become overworked, putting patients’ lives at risk. Rather than stretching already burnt-out staff to breaking point, the government needs to recruit more doctors to ensure the NHS can continue to deliver a world-class service.”
“In addition, the government has paid insufficient regard to the impact these changes will have on women, carers and people with disabilities. For example, women taking time off for maternity leave, or people with disabilities working part-time will be disadvantaged. Amazingly, the government’s own equality analysis found this discrimination to be acceptable as a ‘means of achieving a legitimate aim’”. 
Following the announcement of these proposals, Peter Stefanovic, a medical negligence lawyer, took the remarkable step of crossing the courtroom floor to stand with junior doctors. He concluded that “the way in which this government has treated our junior doctors is manifestly unjust…. The government’s conduct is now challenging basis principles such as honesty and fairness.” 
Dr. Rachel Clarke told the Mirror “I dearly wish I didn’t have to strike, but my first duty as a doctor is to protect my patients from harm, and I know this contract is dangerous”.  Her sentiment was echoed by junior doctors across the country.
Not only must we resist this proposal, but we must also fight the privatisation-by-stealth of the NHS. The cherry-picking of lucrative services by private providers is leaving the NHS with less money to provide comprehensive care, and creating a two-tier healthcare system, where those who can afford it get seen quickly, whilst disadvantaged patients suffer.  In 2014, more than 52,000 patients in England were denied routine operations due to financial pressures, and that will only get worse with more and more contracts being handed to private companies. 
Jeremy Hunt has repeatedly shown himself to be incapable of protecting the NHS, with this imposition being the latest in a series of failures to put patients first. This is hardly surprising, given that Hunt co-authored a book calling for the NHS to be replaced with private insurance.  A man who sees the health of the public as a commodity to be bought and sold clearly cannot be trusted to defend the NHS, Hunt must resign.