Junior doctors' protest gets MP's backing

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The former conservative health minister Dr Dan Poulter has given his support to junior doctors by appearing in a video produced by them on the eve of a planned protest.

The London march is part of a campaign against government plans to reform junior doctors' contracts in England.

A Department of Health spokesperson said assurances had been given that there would be no cuts to the pay bill.

Dr Poulter is a practising doctor and conservative MP.

He was a minister at the Department of Health between 2012 and May 2015.

During that time he was involved in contract talks with the doctors' union - the British Medical Association (BMA).

In the video he says on the issue of the contract reforms: "We need to make sure this is not a contract about delivering cuts in doctors' pay....but about making sure doctors are properly remunerated" delivering safe care and a seven-day NHS.

At the end of the video there is text which says Dr Poulter is unable to attend Saturday's march but "he wished through this video to show his support for junior doctors at this difficult time... He hopes the march is a success and results in junior doctors achieving a contract that is fair and safe".

It is not the first time that Dr Poulter has expressed support for the junior doctors' campaign, writing in The Guardian last week that medics were "rightly upset" about proposed cuts to their pay.

The BMA has announced that it will ballot members on industrial action over the government's planned reforms, claiming they will result in lower pay for some doctors and excessive hours being imposed.

The BMA argues that it was left with no choice but to withdraw from negotiations when it became clear that employers were "standing in the way of delivering reforms which would ensure a safe NHS".

Seven-day care

The government and NHS Employers denied imposing preconditions and said they were willing to continue the talks.

A Department of Health spokesperson said: "Junior doctors work incredibly hard and, as we have consistently said, we want to reward them fairly while ensuring that patients get proper seven-day care.

"We have already given absolute assurances that we are not going to save a penny from the junior doctors' pay bill, and will reduce the number of hours doctors are asked to work."

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