A junior doctor at Barnstaple’s North Devon District Hospital has given her insight on why this week’s strikes are so important.

A Barnstaple junior doctor has given a point of view from the picket-line as the latest round of strikes takes place.

Dr Katie Pass is a core anaesthetic trainee who has worked at North Devon District Hospital (NDDH) since August.

The 29-year-old will stand alongside fellow junior doctors today (Tuesday) and tomorrow when British Medical Association (BMA) members withdraw their labour between 8am and 5pm.

In a letter to the Gazette, Katie, from Tiverton, told us why the strikes were not just about Saturday pay.

She said: “The Government states their election manifesto pledged to bring in a ‘seven-day NHS’ and justify their actions on this. What they have not been transparent about is that there is no extra funding or resources being provided to bring in such a service, and that changing junior doctor contracts will not do so either.”

She also raised concerns about patient and doctor safety.

“Junior doctors already work days, nights and weekends year-round. We already have a seven-day emergency care service. Sadly there is also already a staffing crisis – with gaps in rotas all around the country.

“The conditions of the new contract will very likely worsen recruitment and retention of staff, which causes us great concern for the future of the NHS itself.

“The new contract reduces current hours safeguards, which help ensure junior doctors are not routinely overworked. New shift patterns would mean the same number of doctors would be expected to cover an increased number of shifts – either spreading the workforce thinner, or increasing doctors’ hours. Patient (and doctor) safety would suffer – tired doctors make mistakes.”

She said the new contract would disadvantage those not working full-time, especially single parents, and disproportionately women.

“Sixty per-cent of newly qualified doctors are women. Junior doctors also have families and many feel the increased number of evening and weekend hours will greatly reduce family time and send child care costs soaring – forcing some to leave the profession.

“The Government is not listening to our concerns. No doctor wishes to strike, and we apologise for any inconvenience or distress caused by cancellation of procedures and appointments.

“We feel that it is important to stand up for our ability to provide a safe, sustainable health service for the foreseeable future, for your families and ours.

“A safe emergency care service will be maintained during the strike days by senior clinicians at NDDH, and we thank them for their support. If you are unwell during those days, please do seek medical attention – you will be well cared for.”