This story is over 5 years old.


Asking People Outside a Hospital What They Think of the Junior Doctors Strike

"My life would have been turned upside down without the NHS."

Junior doctors on strike

Britain's junior doctors are out on strike for the second time in a month today. Their grievances are the same as last time: opposition to a proposed contract that would make them work until 10 PM without overtime and make Saturday part of the normal working week. After the last strike, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt signaled that he'd enforce the new contract no matter what the doctors thought, which didn't do much to cool tensions.


With future strike days planned and a poll on Tuesday showing that 90 percent of junior doctors would consider quitting if Jeremy Hunt forced the proposals through, it doesn't look like an agreement will be reached any time soon. Today, Jeremy Hunt was pleading with doctors to "do the right thing," which in this case seems to mean "shut up and take the pain." He thanked the doctors who did go to work, but despite their efforts nearly 3,000 operations were canceled.

Since the first strike, public opinion has largely been with the doctors, and support only seems to have grown. A poll found today that the public overwhelmingly blame Jeremy Hunt for the strike.

VICE went down to Brighton General Hospital to pick the brains of patients and ask what they thought of the strike.

Peter Triste, 67
I'm here waiting for my friend who's been in hospital. My opinion is that no one wants to be affected by a strike, but at the same time I think it's important to ask the question: why do they feel they need to? With all of the cuts, they must be under hellish pressure. By making them work so hard, I think the government is playing on the loyalty of the staff. I don't think they get their worth—let's put it that way.

My own GP has gone early because, at his age, he didn't want to work under the new regime. Anyone operating under duress—as it seems the junior doctors will be under the new contract—will not work as well as they can do. In terms of solutions to all this, I mean, I wouldn't mind paying an extra 20p in the pound on taxation if it meant we had a good health service, but there you go.


Miriam Binder, 59
I was last in the hospital a week ago for something unexpected that came up, but I've come down here today to support the doctors. I've had a lot of experience as a patient in the NHS: both good and bad. I've got vascular disease so have had a lot of treatment to do with that. I have a grandson who desperately needs mental health care at the moment and can't get it. I have a daughter who is due to undergo brain surgery. I have a foster child who has undergone brain surgery. And my other daughter had her kids here in this hospital. When you look at the low level of funding the NHS has got, when you look at what the doctors are actually managing to deliver, it's outstanding. Absolutely outstanding.

Nobody becomes a doctor because it's an easy job; slugging your guts out for seven years. The government's taking advantage of that dedication and commitment. If the government wins this—If the government wins this! I daren't even think about it.

Jo Borne, 48
My son's here for a clinic; it's a regular thing—he's disabled and I'm his carer. We haven't been affected by the strikes so far. I don't know a lot about the strike, but I'm for it. Definitely. Wholeheartedly. I don't see a lot of junior doctors at the hospital—we normally see the consultants—but the doctors who we do see are doing a great job. I think they're doing the right thing striking. I think they work hard with the hours they put in, and they have to deal with a lot of stress and often difficult patients.


If the government tried to privatize the NHS I think it would be the worst thing they could do for everyone. The NHS has done a lot for my family. If it wasn't for them my husband wouldn't be here. He's got an aggressive brain tumor. He's had two operations to remove it. He has chemotherapy and radio therapy and regular MRI scans. My life would have been turned upside down without the NHS.

David Mercer, 68
I definitely think it's right that they should go on strike. If they're overworked and tired it's going to lead to misdiagnosis and other things; it's bad for the patients and it's bad for them. Critics of the strike say things like: "They've always worked hard" and "That's the way it's always been." Well, just because it has been that way, doesn't make it right, does it? I haven't been affected directly, which surprised me, as I'm up here fairly regularly. People moan about waiting all day, but if you're ill, you're ill: you can wait anywhere. I'm happy with my doctors, with the surgery, and with the treatment I've had when I have been treated.

Oliver Gough, 88
I've been in hospital for five weeks and I'm going home today. I didn't know about the strike and my treatment hasn't been disrupted by it, as far as I know. I've had very good treatment, very good food, I've been looked after very well, generally. The doctors have been excellent. So they're trying to cut their overtime and make them work longer hours? Well that's just brilliant! If the doctors work longer hours, they should get paid overtime. I think making them work harder will make the whole system less efficient; the doctors will get tired and it might be dangerous. I think, simply, they shouldn't be expected to work overtime and longer hours. And who should make these decisions? The government? Hmm.

Follow Oscar on Twitter.