Government claims strike could cost lives
The Philippine military is under increased to rescue more than 20 foreign hostages after their extremist captors beheaded a Canadian man. Abu Sayyaf gunmen beheaded John Ridsdel on Monday in the southern province of Sulu, sparking condemnations and prompting Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to pledge to help the Philippines pursue the extremists behind the “heinous act”. Ridsdel’s head, which was placed in a plastic bag, was dumped by motorcycle-riding militants on Monday night in Jolo town in Sulu, a province about 95km south of Manila, where the Abu Sayyaf and allied gunmen are believed to be holding 22 foreign hostages from six Western and Asian countries. The Philippine military and police said “there will be no let-up” in the effort to combat the militants and find the hostages, even though they have had little success in safely securing their freedom. Thousands of junior doctors have posted picket lines outside hospitals around England in the first all-out strike in the history of Britain’s National Health Service.
The two-day strike, which started yesterday, marks the first time that vital NHS emergency services have been affected by industrial action.
The strike reflects the impasse between the government and the junior doctors, who are physicians with up to 10 years of experience, over the government’s pledge to greatly expand National Health Service care on weekends.
The financial dispute centres on payment for weekend shifts and whether Saturday should be treated as a normal working day.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt insisted the government would not be “blackmailed” into scrapping its election pledge to bolster weekend services. He said that promise was a centrepiece of the Conservative Party’s platform in the 2015 election.
“I don’t think any union has the right to blackmail the government, to force the government to abandon a manifesto promise that the British people have voted on,” he said.
More than 125,000 appointments and operations have been cancelled and will need to be rearranged due to the strike, a result of the long-running dispute between the government and the British Medical Association.
Hunt warned the walkout would cause particular risks for patients needing emergency room treatment and those in maternity wards and intensive care units.
Mark Porter, head of the medical association, told the BBC that senior consulting physicians would provide emergency care while the junior doctors are on strike. He said the government was misleading the public by claiming the job action put lives at risk.
“The Health Secretary is trying to find some way to throw mud at the junior doctors of this country who have been providing weekend and night emergency cover since the NHS started,” he said.
WALK OUT: Doctors on a picket line yesterday