The government and right wing media have been "turning up the temperature" ahead of tomorrow's first junior doctors strike to deliberately misrepresent their concerns, the British Medical Association (BMA) has said.
Health minister Jeremy Hunt has urged the BMA to reconsider strike action in the interests of patient health, and chief medical officer Dame Sally Davies has warned that patients will suffer during the three planned walkouts.
But campaigners have said that it's unfair to shift the blame onto staff who have the right to protest changes to contracts which they say will cut pay, create even more antisocial working hours, and have detrimental knock-on effects for patient care.
The Sun on Sunday led the charge with a splash on the extravagant lifestyles of 'Moet Medics', having trawled campaigners' social media profiles for pictures of them enjoying "lavish holidays and parties" when - shockingly enough - they aren't working.
The story was ridiculed by many junior doctors, who took the piss by posting pictures of the rather more mundane goings on in their every day lives:
Or show what they wish they were doing rather than working 55 hour weeks and studying at the same time:
The hashtag #smearthedocs started trending on social media - and by Monday morning, there was even more to talk about.
Although a staggering 98 per cent of junior doctors made the call to strike themselves, in the Daily Mail Dominic Lawson accused some of the BMA leadership of an overtly left-wing agenda, writing that "The Trots leading our doctors don't care about patients - just class war":
Some of the leaders of the British Medical Association (the doctors’ trade union), this is not merely industrial action but the realisation of long-held political ambition — to mount an ideological challenge to a Conservative government.
And over at the Telegraph, Boris Johnson wrote in his Monday column:
It strikes me that at least some of these people are more interested in politics than their patients.
The BMA leadership is in the grip of advanced Corbynitis.
The BMA told i100.co.uk that the union is an apolitical organisation, and since they have been working with the government for over two years to try and thrash out terms on the new contracts, such claims are unjustified.
Rather than attacking doctors, politicians should be listening to the concerns of tens of thousands of junior doctors and putting pressure on the government to put patient safety first in these discussions.
The biggest threat to patient care is the government’s insistence on removing key safeguards which prevent junior doctors from being forced to work dangerously long hours without breaks, with patients facing the prospect of being treated by exhausted doctors.
i100.co.uk has reached out to junior doctor and campaigner Ben White, who appears to have started the hashtag #smearthedocs, for comment.
The first of three planned 24-hour walk outs across England begins at 8am on Tuesday, with junior doctors providing emergency care only.