Nearly 90,000 people have signed a petition, calling for Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt’s removal or resignation, after branding his speech on seven-day access “the last straw”.
This petition, which currently has 89,426 signatures, was started by Dan Furmedge, a specialist registrar in geriatric and general internal medicine at Bart's Health NHS Trust. He explained his motivation to Management in Practice: “Hunt has peddled incorrect figures without clear evidence and has demonstrated that he has no idea what is actually happening on the ground in the NHS and therefore simply does not understand why his current proposals are unworkable.
“This is across the NHS in primary and secondary care. Everyone is already stretched to the limit… Frustratingly he won't engage us, merely calling us lazy, which if you have ever met a doctor is I think the last thing we could be called,” he said.
Similarly, another petition on the parliament petition website is aiming for 100,000 signatures in order to trigger a debate on a vote of no confidence in the health secretary. It currently has 81,008 signatures.
It read: “Jeremy Hunt has alienated the entire workforce of the NHS by threatening to impose a harsh contract and conditions on first consultants and soon the rest of the NHS staff.”
Last week at a conference in London, Hunt gave the British Medical Association (BMA) an ultimatum to negotiate seven-day working for hospital doctors by September, otherwise he warned he will impose a new contract without an opt-out clause for weekend work.
After 10,000 votes the government must issue a response, and they have one day left to do so.
“We will obviously be expecting a response from David Cameron, especially if the parliamentary petition makes 100,000. I plan to contact David Cameron and Jeremy Hunt with the petitions in the coming days requesting a formal response. Almost 200,000 signatories [in total] in fewer than 48 hours must surely send a clear message of no confidence in Jeremy Hunt,” Furmedge added.