Cameron And Robertson In Feisty Junior Doctors Row

6 January 2016, 13:38

David Cameron has clashed with Angus Robertson after the SNP's leader in Westminster asked why junior doctors are planning to strike in England but not in Scotland.

The British Medical Association (BMA) announced earlier this week that there will be three spells of industrial action in the coming weeks because of a dispute over a new contract.

Talks between the Government and the BMA aimed at resolving the standoff are due to resume on Friday.

But Mr Robertson used Prime Minister's Questions to highlight the apparent differences in relations between England and Scotland.

He said: ``The health service is devolved but junior doctors in Scotland are not planning to strike next week.

``Why does the Prime Minister think that the Scottish Government has good relations with junior doctors and his Government doesn't?''

Mr Cameron replied: ``You raise an important question. We have taken a different approach to the government in Scotland.

``We have increased spending on the NHS by more than the government in Scotland, which I think is the right approach, but we are determined to deal with this issue of having a genuine seven-day NHS.

``Everybody knows - doctors know it, patients know it, the management of the NHS knows it, the BMA knows it - that there is a problem with the NHS at the weekend and one of the ways to correct that is making sure we have new contracts, including with junior doctors, to make sure not that they work longer hours, in fact under our plans many will work much less hours.''

He also stressed that ``no one who works legal hours will see a cut in their pay'' and that ``75% of doctors will see a pay rise''.

Mr Robertson also asked if Jeremy Hunt will speak to his Scottish counterpart Shona Robison ``to learn how to resolve the situation in England and stave off strike action which no one wants to see, least of all junior doctors''.

Mr Cameron replied: ``There should always be good relations and good discussions between the Health Secretary in the United Kingdom Government and health ministers in the devolved administrations.''