Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt "has no interest in finding a settlement" in his ongoing dispute with the British Medical Association (BMA), talkRADIO has been told.
Earlier today (Tuesday), at 8am, junior doctors walked out in force in the first all-out doctors' strike in the history of the NHS. This action follows the failure to find a resolution, following a series of negotiations, to the issue of an imposed contract to change their working hours and employment conditions.
The changes would see standard working hours extend from 60 to 90 per week, with employees required to work up to 10pm six days a week with no salary increase.
The contract sparked fury amongst junior doctors, who say they are already stretched thin by workforce shortages and unsociable hours.
Dr. Jeeves Wijesuriya took part in the negotiations with the Department of Health, saying they explored every option before staging the strike, and he laid the blame firmly at Hunt's door.
"Today is a sad day," he told Julia Hartley-Brewer. "For many of us, we have done everything possible to avoid getting here.
"The sad truth is we've been left with no alternative because Mr Hunt isn't interested in finding a negotiated settlement."
Dr. Wijesuriya stated firmly the row is not just over pay.
"This is about the sustainability of our health service," he insisted. "He is imposing something [the contract] he has not piloted, not tested, with no idea of what it will cost.
"It is something we know is a threat to our patients, profession, and health service. What we are hoping is he will see sense."