Street artist Stik joins medics on strike
- Credit: Archant
Street artist Stik showed solidarity with striking junior doctors as they all marched on Hackney Town Hall brandishing placards depicting his iconic baby print symbolising “the fragility” of the NHS.
Medics were due to stage the first ever “all out” strike in the history of the NHS in December, after 98 per cent of those who responded to ballot voted for three days of strike action.
Action was averted when talks between NHS doctors’ union, the British Medical Association (BMA), and Government were resumed – but hopes of coming to a deal have once again broken down.
Routine operations were postponed at Homerton Hospital on Tuesday, but emergency care was left in place.
Doctors are furious at Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s proposed changes to their contracts, due to come into effect in August.
Hunt claims he wants to change doctors’ contracts to facilitate the creation of a truly seven-day-a-week NHS, but the BMA claims the new contract will lead to doctors working evenings and weekends without overtime pay, and lacks safeguards against doctors working even more “dangerously” long hours.
Dozens of medics marched from Homerton Hospital to Mare Street carrying the placards depicting Stik’s stick-figure like baby mural which is painted in a courtyard of the hospital.
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Last November he raised £50,000 for the NHS hospital which he credits with saving his life a few times, by selling 500 screen prints of it.
“We have been left holding the baby and we are going to protect it,” said Stik, whose work now hangs in the homes of musicians Elton John, Bono and Brian May.
Junior doctor, Danny Turton said: “In 2012, at the Olympic opening ceremony, one of the things we celebrated loudest, with the eyes of the world upon us, was our nation’s pride in the National Health Service.
“This was less than two miles away from Homerton Hospital.
“It’s time the government started listening to the people that care most, and work hardest for the NHS - its staff.”
A and E doctor Sandy Robertson added: “I am deeply concerned that the work life imposed by this contract will make our practice unsafe and therefore will be bad for our patients.
“The contract removes financial penalties on trusts if they rota us to work long, unsafe hours, and will only allow 20 minutes break for every 11 hours worked.”
But Jeremy Hunt blasted the strike as “unnecessary”.
“We have some disagreements with the BMA over pay, but we all want to do is promise every patient who uses the NHS the same high quality of care every day of the week.”
He continued: “We have been arguing this with the BMA for over three years. In the end, this was in our manifesto and endorsed by the British people.
“We want the NHS to offer the best and safest care in the world.”