Junior dentists strike against new contract

Junior dentists take industrial action over contract dispute

Judi Humphreys joined hospital dentists on the 12 January for the first 24-hour strike.

The strike comes in response to government failure to address concerns on safe working and unsocial hours.

Dentistry’s Charlotte Lloyd spoke to Judi to find out more.

Charlotte Lloyd (CL): Why are you personally participating in the strike?

Judi Humphreys (JH): I’m currently working in an oral and maxillofacial surgery department and I am surrounded by those who are directly affected by the new legislation. I want to support my colleagues who are going to be really badly hit and stand against the damaging effect it will have on the NHS. If I continue to work in the maxillofacial department, I will be affected.

CL: Tell me about the first 24-hour strike…

JH: It was a good atmosphere. There was a real comradery between the dentists and all the different specialties of the doctors, as well as support from consultants. The general public were mostly supportive and lots of people tooted their car horn as they drove past. Those walking past also stopped to give their support. There were some people who were angry that people weren’t in work as they were concerned about patient care.

CL: Do you think the government will listen after the current action being taken?

JH: The government, I think, don’t want to listen to the British Medical Association. They have been in talks for three years and haven’t been able to come to an agreement yet, so I think it is really important to get the public on our side. The government are scared of the general public, as they don’t want to become unpopular.

CL: Do you think the other strikes will go ahead?

JH: It’s definitely in the balance as to whether they go ahead. The profession of medics and dentists don’t want to strike – we just want a solution. If we compare this to the financial crisis when the government were discussing bankers pay, the government defended their bonuses because they were worried they would leave the UK. People are leaving the country to practice medicine abroad because there is a better work life balance. Do the government value those who look after the money more than those who look after our health and the NHS?

Planned industrial action

Further planned industrial action is set for:

  • 8am, Tuesday 26 January to 8am, Thursday 28 January – emergency care only
  • 8am to 5pm, Wednesday 10 February – full withdrawal of labour.

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