The Prime Minister, Mr. Harold Wilson, has stepped in to mediate in the crisis which?
The Prime Minister, Mr. Harold Wilson, has stepped in to mediate in the crisis which is crippling Britain's National Health Service.
The National Health Service is one of the institutions of which Britons are most proud. The idea of the service is that any Briton gets free medical or hospital treatment paid for by the state.
The doctors met Mr. Wilson at 10 Downing street on Thursday (4 December) but that meeting brought no immediate progress towards resolving the crisis.
There are two arguments between the doctors and the government. The private practice issue ... which questions whether private patients should be allowed to use N.H.S. facilities, and the junior doctors' overtime protest, which has brought disruption to almost every hospital in the country.
Because of the junior doctors' ban on overtime even London's King's College Hospital casualty department which is the largest emergency unit in south-east England, has had to restrict its hours of operation. Several injured people have had to be transported from hospital to hospital by ambulance to find a casualty department which is open.
Meanwhile, several heads of the medical profession have called for the resignation of Social Services Secretary, Mrs. Barbara Castle. The influential British Medical Journal has said in a leading article that "in less than two years, the Department of Health under Mrs. Castle's direction has brought the National Health Service closer to destruction than at any time in history".
Mrs. Castle has said that there could be no settlement of the dispute with the junior doctors which would breach the government pay policy.
The crisis started because about 19,000 junior doctors would not work overtime. The Government, trying to curb wages and keep down inflation, rejected their claim for more overtime pay.
In the other dispute with the government, 11,000 medical specialists are treating only emergency cases in protest against a government plan to phase out private beds in the hospitals - a move, they fear, will cut their overall income.
The private beds side of the dispute diluted the Labour Party's ideal of the complete state system with no "privileged" paying patients.
SYNOPSIS: The crisis which threatens to cripple Britain's National Health service continues. The National Health Service is one of the institutions of which Britons are most proud. The idea of the system was that any Briton got free medical or hospital treatment paid for by the state.
The present dispute centres around two issues. It began with an overtime ban by the country's nineteen-thousand junior doctors because their claim for more overtime pay was rejected. It contradicted the government's anti-inflation policy. The other affects medical specialists. They're only treating emergency cases to protest against a government plan to phase out private beds in hospitals. The move's part of the ideal of a complete state system with no paying patients but the specialists say it would reduce their income. Now the Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, has stepped into mediate. He met doctors representatives at Ten Downing Street on Thursday.
Also at the meeting was Sate Services Secretary Barbara Castle who has come under fire from the medical profession for her handling of the crisis. Ambulance drivers now face difficult times. There are stories daily of drivers having to transport patients from hospital to hospital to find a casualty department which is still accepting patients.
One of the latest hospitals to limit the casualty department hours is London's King's College Hospital. It has the largest emergency unit in south-east England and its closure means that other hospitals will have to cope with about five hundred extra patients. In the other dispute with the government eleven thousand medical specialists are treating only emergency cases in protest against the government's plan to ph?se out private beds in hospitals.
Meanwhile the talks and the crisis continue and the doctors play a waiting game to see what solutions the government may be able to offer.