Union rep tells striking doctors to not warn their NHS bosses

‘Completely unethical’: Union rep sparks fury after telling striking doctors to not warn their NHS bosses in the hope they will still get paid

  • Dr Arjan Singh said there is no requirement to alert hospital managers of strikes
  • This week thousands of junior medics are staging walkouts across the country

A union rep has sparked outrage by encouraging doctors not to tell their NHS bosses when they go on strike, in the hope that they will still get paid.

Dr Arjan Singh told medics there is no legal requirement to alert hospital managers.

He said industrial action has thrown payroll departments into such chaos that doctors may not see their salaries docked.

It comes as thousands of junior medics stage a third strike day in support of British Medical Association demands for ‘full pay restoration’, which would mean a huge 35 per cent rise.

Dr Singh, chairman of the BMA’s North Thames junior doctors committee, made his comments in a Twitter meeting in January. 

Thousands of junior medics will stage a third strike day today. Pictured: Junior doctors at Homerton Hospital in Hackney on March 14

He said: ‘In 2016, the vast majority of doctors who were striking did get paid. When you go on strike, you don’t have to tell your department or hospital. In fact, we would encourage you not to tell them.’

Critics said this would mean wasted patient appointments as well as taking money from hard-pressed health trusts. 

Conservative MP Paul Bristow, who sits on the Health Select Committee, told the Mail last night: ‘While what this doctor advised is not technically illegal, it certainly would be considered by most right-thinking people to be completely unethical.

‘It will give hospitals little time to rearrange appointments, wasting patients’ time. And it could be construed as an attempt to get paid when not present at work.’ He went on: ‘Junior doctors need to ask themselves if their pay demands are attainable and worth risking lives for.’ Last night the BMA insisted last night it was not their policy.

And Dr Singh backed down when challenged by this newspaper.

He said: ‘In case my comments were unclear or open to misinterpretation, I fully understand that whilst a junior doctor is not obliged to tell their employer that they are taking industrial action, if they then get paid, this needs to be on the basis of the employer being fully aware they took strike action, and junior doctors should respond truthfully to any queries from their employer after the action itself.’

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: ‘We hugely value the hard work of junior doctors and urge the BMA to come to the negotiating table and cancel strikes which risk patient safety and impact efforts to tackle the backlog.

‘We want to find a fair settlement which recognises the crucial role of junior doctors and the wider economic pressures facing the UK.

‘In line with national NHS guidance, employees are not entitled to be paid when they are on strike and we expect individual NHS trusts to follow this.’

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