We asked normal people if they were sympathetic to the junior doctors

‘The government has treated them disgracefully’

Today, junior doctors are staging their first ever all-out strike as their battle with Jeremy Hunt and the government over a proposed new contract escalates. It’s the largest industrial action of our generation. And considering doctors are a group of moral, intelligent and highly-skilled individuals who have dedicated their lives to service, this lot probably have a point.

But there is – obviously – a lobby that argues that they’re being greedy, or remiss. There is scaremongering that suggests that by walking out they’re just killing people, probably. At the less extreme end of the opposition, considered broadsheet columnists are warning them that striking could lose them the sympathy that they need from the public.

So what does the public think? Have they been affected by the scaremongering? We asked normal people in London whether they sympathised with the doctors.

Kat

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If I were a junior doctor I would probably strike as well. If they’re going to be paid less than minimum wage then they may as well work in McDonald’s. I have friends who are training to be doctors in medical school, and I can’t begin to imagine how demoralising it must be for them to watch this going on. Having said that, I don’t feel fully informed on all the issues behind the strike. [But] I’m definitely sympathetic towards them.

Barry and Eduardo

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Eduardo: Isn’t public support for them at something like 50 per cent? I’m not sure how long that will last. Barry are you sympathetic to them?

Barry: I would say that, if my sympathy was out of 10, I would be about 6.5.

Ollie

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My sister recently quit her job in the NHS. She was working in an STI clinic in Westminster. She didn’t think it was run well, or that the people who worked there were treated fairly. So I definitely feel sympathy with the junior doctors, in principle. We need to pay these people properly, and we need the right people, the people who’ve gone to university and had the proper training, doing these jobs.

Emily

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I feel huge sympathy for the strike. Junior doctors perform an integral service to the way the entire country is run. We should support them for as long as it takes.

Luke

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I definitely support the strike and the doctors behind it. I will be supporting them, however long it takes. I work in PR, and for me, the right-wing parts of the media have done a great job spinning the entire thing for the government. They’ve really clouded the issues at hand. I think the public ought to know that this strike is about the long, hard, tiring hours the doctors will be forced to work – they’re not being greedy.

James

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I’m certainly behind the strike. I doubt my support would waver, even if it does drag on for six months, or a year. As long as they’re willing to continue to work when emergency care is needed, I don’t see what the problem is. You cannot allow employers to bully employees over contracts. I have friends who work in the health service as GPs and anaesthetists. I haven’t actually asked them if they support the strike, it all seems very personal. Say lawyers and bankers were being bullied over their contracts in this way – can you imagine the stink there would be?

Marco

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I have great respect for medical people and I think it’s a real shame this is happening. In principle, I have sympathy with the doctors. Absolutely. I wish I knew more about the issues at stake though.

Jo

IMG_2029 I think it is utterly disgraceful to see the government treat the junior doctors in this way. I’m fully behind them, even if the strike goes on for months. If I were in the same position, I would strike. Sometimes in life you need to take a stand – this is one of those moments.

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