Striking doctors brought their ‘picket line’ into the heart of Bury St Edmunds today and combined it with life saving training.
As health minister Jeremy Hunt accused junior doctors of ‘putting lives at risk’ during this week’s two-day strike by leaving A&E emergencies in the hands of hospitals’ most experienced consultants, those from West Suffolk Hospital were giving life saving CPR training to anyone who wanted it in Buttermarket.
Their ‘Meet the Doctors’ event will also have a stall in tomorrow’s market.
Emma Gordon, a WSH specialist registrar and BMA representative, said: “We’re frustrated with being out on strike and wanted to do something positive so we wanted to give basic life support advice.
“If this helps one person save a life, it’s worth it.”
One of the first to take advantage was Tony Kite who said: “I support the doctors because I don’t think there’s any justification for anybody imposing contracts on people.”
At their usual picket line outside the hospital they had a ‘negotiating table’ with an empty seat for Mr Hunt.
Though for the first time the junior doctors are not giving emergency cover, those on the picket line and in Buttermarket stressed they would return to work if anything happened so the hospital could not cope.
Ms Gordon said: “Senior management are on the ground making sure everything is OK. They’ve got my phone number and if they give me a ring saying ‘we need you’ we’ll be straight back.
“If patients need us, we’ll be there but they’re being covered by the most experienced clinicians in the hospital.”
Doctors say other hospital staff have been supporting them. Dr Lauren Crook said: “If we’re being told we have to work this way and be stretched, then all the services have to be stretched because we don’t work in isolation.”
Her colleague Dr Anna Beaumont said other staff were concerned about contracts being imposed. She added: “It’s not just junior doctors who are understaffed at the moment – nurses are understaffed. We have to have a discussion about what we want the NHS to be . We have to have a discussion about more staff.”