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West Suffolk Hospital boss Stephen Dunn denies supporting Jeremy Hunt’s imposed junior doctors contract

17:55 12 February 2016

The junior doctors strike at West Suffolk Hospital in bury.

The junior doctors strike at West Suffolk Hospital in bury.


A Suffolk hospital boss has denied supporting the imposing of a contract on junior doctors after his name appeared on the “key” letter that led to the decision.

Dr Stephen Dunn is the new chief executive of West Suffolk HospitalDr Stephen Dunn is the new chief executive of West Suffolk Hospital

Professor Stephen Dunn, chief executive of the NHS trust at West Suffolk Hospital, was listed among 20 NHS chiefs who supposedly supported the contract being imposed to end the long running dispute.

The move to force the new contract, which has been labelled dangerous by the British Medical Association (BMA), has hurt morale at the Bury St Edmunds Hospital – whose junior doctors went on a 24-hour strike from 8am on Tuesday.

However, Prof Dunn said his view had been misrepresented and that he only agreed to support the “fair and reasonable” contract offered by the Department of Health (DoH).

Yesterday a spokeswoman for the Department of Health said the letter, sent to the Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt by the Government’s negotiator Sir David Dalton, was the “key reason” behind the decision to force the contract on the doctors.

West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds. Photograph Simon ParkerWest Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds. Photograph Simon Parker

In a letter to junior doctors Prof Dunn revealed his fears for their morale, inviting them to an emergency meeting so he could “clarify” his position.

The letter, sent on Wednesday and seen by the EADT, read: “I would like to clarify that I did not support the imposition of the contract, although I did agree to lend my support to the latest offer made and I was prepared to say, and still am, that I believe it is a fair and reasonable offer.

“I am deeply concerned about the morale of junior doctors both nationally, but more particularly in our own trust as a result of this latest development.

“I would like to invite all juniors working at West Suffolk Hospital to a meeting with me tomorrow (February 12).

“This will be an opportunity for me to clarify my personal position, restate my full support for our doctors and all they do here and to answer any questions they may have.

“I do hope that this offer will be taken up by as many doctors as are able to be there and please convey to your colleagues my disappointment at the way the support I offered Sir David Dalton has been misconstrued in the letter that was issued today.”

The hospital boss joined at least nine other signatories in publicly distancing themselves from Sir David’s letter which told Mr Hunt’s department to “do whatever it deems necessary” to ensure the new contract was in place and informed the health minister that 20 chief executives supported his position.

The backlash from the letter led to public criticism of Prof Dunn on Twitter and Facebook, with the chief executive repeatedly defending himself from attacks online from a range of medical professionals.

Sir David’s letter was defended by Danny Mortimer, the chief executive of NHS Employers who represent NHS trusts.

He said: “As Sir David Dalton has made clear, the statement that the chief executives agreed to was confirming that the best and final position was considered fair and reasonable, and that they believed the NHS needed certainty and not continuation of the stalemate.

“There are a variety of opinions about the government’s decision to impose this contract, and the BMA must take responsibility for their failure to engage with the substantial compromise position offered to them on Tuesday. Our priority now is to work with trusts to ensure that they have the support they need to effectively introduce this new better contract.”

The full letter from Sir David can be read by clicking here.


  • Waspie's wife...I want to see a 7 day NHS. As in other services like police.Satudays are no longer considered special days.It is obvious when seeing to elderly family members on wards, that the service falls down at weekends. They need all staff the same as in the week. The senior consultants need a contract change too. A reversal of Labour's 2003 contract that saw their weekend work decrease. Waiting for a relatife to be seen on wards, for tests, a kind of limbo. Also the reversal of the 2004 contracts that saw GP's opt from weekend work. Now I read they may take care home visits out of the equation. The doctirs will work 72 instead of 90 odd. Less night shifts and get a rate after 5 on a Saturday. A 13% not 11 % basic rise.

    Report this comment


    Saturday, February 13, 2016

  • @beerlover. Absolutely. This is indefensible bullying by the twisted Tories. However this needs to be put into perspective as this is one part of their diabolical grand plan to sell off everything our nation has built over successive generations which has been part of our "common wealth" and helps make our society what it is. The NHS, like our public parks, the other emergency services, our grand public buildings belong to us; the taxpayers as our contribution towards the maintenance of the nation. The government of the day, which just happens to be at present composed of a Con majority owns nothing; they are there in office and supposed to do our (voters') bidding and work for us. The Cons tend to attract the votes of the aspiring majority as well as the downright wealthy selfish minority elite. The latter will not feel any impact of Tory cuts to public services but the former most certainly will and that may well end the careers of hundreds of Tory MPs across the country and closer to home those in our county. Good riddance!

    Report this comment

    Steve Blake

    Friday, February 12, 2016

  • There's just no end to the lies the Tories are willing to tell in their campaign to wreck and then privatise the NHS.

    Report this comment


    Friday, February 12, 2016

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