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Junior doctors outside Quarry Hill Department for Health building - photo Iain Dalton

Junior doctors outside Quarry Hill Department for Health building – photo Iain Dalton

Two doctors, a table and one chair with Jeremy Hunt’s name on it. A striking visual symbol of how the government won’t talk and are pushing junior doctors into strike action against the implementation of Hunt’s new contract.

Iain Dalton, Leeds Socialist Party

Emulating a similar sit-in started a week earlier outside the Department of Health in London, doctors have camped themselves outside the department’s offices on Quarry Hill with an invite for Jeremy Hunt to come and speak to them.

But the doctors are more thanw willing to talk anyone else passing by too about the situation facing the NHS. Whilst I visited workers from the office stopped to show their support, as did a woman who had read about the sit-in in the local press.

One of the doctors I spoke to had been enthused by the huge support show for them on the demonstration in Leeds on Saturday (see our report). With next week seeing the first full withdrawl of labour by junior doctors (although consultants be covering), her and other doctors were nervous that public support would drop. But on Saturday people were clapping and cheering as the march passed by.

She also mentioned how pleased they’d been to have support at the demo from Richard Burgon, Leeds East MP, and leading Labour figures like Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell. But they were angry with the lack of support from others in the Labour Party such as Chukka Ummuna who on Question Time refused to say he supported them.

She commented that her local Labour candidate was running the same sort of campaign about road traffic etc as the sitting Tory councillor is. This was contrasted favourably with TUSC candidates, including myself, coming down to support them and our statement in our election material of our full backing for the doctors strikes.

The Socialist Party and TUSC will be continuing our support for the junior doctors by joining them on the picket line next week and distributing leaflets for a co-ordinated strike action of trade unions against theis rotten government, especially in the health sector, at the upcoming Society of Radiographers conference in Leeds. We encourage people to join the doctors of the picket lines and in other activities in support of this crucial struggle in defence of the NHS.