PROTESTERS from Stroud will join others across Gloucestershire in speaking out in solidarity with Junior Doctors, as they go on strike again over the terms of a new employment contract.

The March for the NHS has been co-organised by local campaigning group Stroud Against the Cuts and will be held in Cheltenham on Saturday, March 12.

It will coincide with a two day strike by Junior Doctors, who are opposing a new employment contract which they have condemned as “unsafe and unfair”.

The contract has been imposed by Heath Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who says it is a key part of the government’s plans for a seven-day NHS.

But the British Medical Association says that "Imposing this contract will seriously undermine the ability of the NHS to recruit and retain junior doctors in areas of medicine with the most unsocial hours, where there are already staffing shortages."

As well as making a clear statement of public support for the Junior Doctors, the protesters also plan to raise the issues of privatisation of local NHS services, the downgrade of Cheltenham Accident & Emergency, the overnight closures of Stroud Minor Injuries Unit and threats to remove bursaries.

Assembling near Cheltenham Hospital at Sandford Park at 12noon, the protest will see demonstrators march through the Strand, High Street, and Promenade, before a short rally for speeches from health workers and campaigners in Montpelier Gardens.

Stroud Against the Cuts and Keep Gloucestershire’s NHS Public and other local groups have previously supported Junior Doctors on picket lines.

Sue Powell of Cheltenham & Gloucester Against Cuts, one of the organisers of the protest said: “The BMA views the imposition of the dangerous new junior doctors' contracts as a further step towards privatisation.

“We agree - the contracts are unfair to doctors and unsafe for patients and doctors.

“Lorry drivers and shift workers are not allowed to work such hours. Hunt's attempts to win public support with promises of a 7-day NHS have fooled no-one.

“His figures are demonstrably untrue. There is enormous public support for the NHS as a free, publicly-owned service and for all NHS staff. This government is trying to trash the NHS in order to make privatisation palatable.

“The proposed changes to doctor’s contracts and nurses' bursaries must be fought. Industrial action must be supported, not just to show solidarity with NHS staff, but to defend a service that is valued and used by the majority of people in this country.”

A Hospitals Trust spokesperson stressed emergency patient care in Gloucestershire would not be jeopardised as a result of the strike. 

“Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has robust plans in place to minimise disruption and to preserve patient care,” they said. 

“Patients with life threatening or serious conditions will continue to be seen at our A&E departments. 

“Patients with minor injuries or less serious conditions should access alternative health services where they will often receive care in a more effective and timely manner. 

“Visit or download the ASAP app for more information.

“Patients who have a planned operation, outpatient clinic or procedure on Wednesday 9, Thursday 10 or Friday 11 March 2016 should attend as usual unless they hear from us directly to advise otherwise.”  

Stroud News and Journal:

The Cheltenham protest will follow a national NHS Day of Action on Friday March 11.

Members of Stroud Against the Cuts will also hold a stall in Stroud High Street on Saturday March 5 to encourage members of the public to support the NHS Bill 2016, and to lobby their MPs.

  • For more details on how to take part, contact James Beecher on 07734 058789 or email