In what could be the first big test of Greater Manchester's devolved powers over health, pro-democracy campaigners are calling for health chiefs and Interim GM Mayor, Tony Lloyd, to rebel against Jeremy Hunt and refuse to impose new contracts on junior doctors.
Doctors and their representatives, the British Medical Association (BMA), argue that the contracts will make it less safe for patients in hospitals, and they have overwhelming public support. A petition on the Government's website calling for a vote of no confidence in Jeremy Hunt has already gained 290,000 signatures.
Top of the `key messages' in the Salford Partnership's latest report on Greater Manchester health devolution is "'Devolution' means Greater Manchester – not Westminster – will decide how every penny of its £6bn health and social care budget is spent in Greater Manchester..."
Now campaigners are calling on the Greater Manchester health powers-that-be to truly represent their residents and refuse to impose the contract...
"We say to Tony Lloyd...an early statement from him, or by Greater Manchester's new 'devolved' NHS chiefs, to the effect that they will be using their newly devolved powers to follow NHS Scotland and NHS Wales, rather than NHS England, in not imposing Jeremy Hunt's contract on junior doctors would be politically apt right now, and also an important test of the extent of Greater Manchester's alleged new powers" says Stephen Hall, President, Greater Manchester Association of Trades Union Councils on behalf of the Greater Manchester Referendum Campaign and Campaign for Democratic Devolution
"Such a step would we believe, also give expression to the people of Greater Manchester's overwhelming support for the Junior Doctors in their fight, which has immense ramifications for all of us, and the future of the NHS" he adds.
The campaigners are calling for Greater Manchester residents to write to the Interim Mayor as a matter of urgency, urging him to issue such a statement as soon as possible to that effect.
Interim GM Mayor, Tony Lloyd, is currently campaigning to be nominated as the Labour Party candidate in the `real' Greater Manchester Mayor election in 2017. On his campaign website he states: "I believe the strength and power of Greater Manchester comes from the strength and power of all its people. I want to make sure the voice of Greater Manchester is heard loud and clear by Government. For too long, it has been overlooked and at times, ignored. We need our strong voice to match those of London and Scotland.
"I'm here to listen to you and speak out on behalf of our communities" he adds "I'm here to stand up to Government to get Greater Manchester the deal we deserve."
On health, he insists: "I am passionate about the NHS and have campaigned against cuts, privatisation and attempts to dismantle our health services. I want a service that is joined up; that prevents ill health, provides treatment and social support to people in specialist centres or at home. I want a service that listens to the nurses, public, doctors, the cleaners, administrators, medical staff, technicians and the health unions."
Contact Tony Lloyd via Twitter @Tony4gtrmcr
Or via his website – click here
• For a background on the junior doctors' dispute see previous Salford Star article – click here