Nicola Sturgeon has hit out at UK government proposals to “impose” a new contract on junior doctors south of the Border to resolve a pay dispute which has seen hospitals hit by strike action.
But she came under fire from political opponents for grandstanding on the health service at a time of widespread concern among NHS staff in Scotland about working conditions.
UK health secretary Jeremy Hunt unveiled the hard-line measure affecting thousands of medics yesterday, accusing the British Medical Association of a lack of flexibility and compromise.
But it prompted a furious reaction from medics, who pledged to fight on, with the prospect of further strikes in English hospitals firmly on the cards. The First Minister yesterday slammed the move as she addressed MSPs at Holyrood. “That will not apply in Scotland,” she said. “This is not, in my view, the way to treat health professionals, so we will not be imposing a contract. Instead, we will continue to work with our junior doctors and other national health service staff in the best interests of patients.”
The Nationalist government in Scotland has no plans to change the contract for junior doctors. The Labour government in Wales has also said it will not change the current deal for the medics.
But a Scottish Labour spokesman said: “We know that NHS staff in Scotland remain overworked and undervalued. We know that only a third of NHS staff believe there are enough of them to do their jobs properly. We know working conditions for junior doctors in Scotland especially can be incredibly difficult.
“The SNP government needs to do more for our hard-pressed NHS staff than simply pat themselves on the back for not being as bad as Jeremy Hunt.”