Junior doctors in all-out strike

26 Apr 16

Junior doctors are taking part in the first all-out industrial action in the history of the NHS in an escalation of a dispute over new contract terms.

The full strike comes after health secretary Jeremy Hunt called on the British Medical Association to halt the action.

The dispute, over changes to the junior doctor contract intended to improve care at evenings and weekends in the health service, has already seen doctors take strike action, although they have continued to provide emergency care.

Following Hunt’s decision to impose the new contract after negotiations with the BMA failed, the dispute has intensified to a full withdrawal of labour between the hours of 8am and 5pm today and tomorrow.

BMA junior doctors committee chair Johann Malawana said the two days of industrial action represented one of the lowest points in the history of the NHS.

“We deeply regret the disruption caused to patients, but we know experienced staff will be working hard to provide the emergency care they need and it is for the benefit of the same patients and people who need to use the NHS in future that we take this action.

“We have made the government a clear offer as to what it will take avert industrial action.

“We offered a simple choice — lift imposition and the strikes would be called off, but unfortunately the health secretary simply refuses to do that.”
In a statement to MPs yesterday, Hunt said he understood that some doctors may disagree with the government over the seven-day NHS plans and particularly the introduction of a new contract.

“I also understand that doctors work incredibly hard, including at weekends, and that strong feelings exist on the single remaining disagreement of substance, Saturday premium pay,” he added.

“But the new contract offers junior doctors who work frequently at weekends more Saturday premium pay than nurses, paramedics, than the assistants who work in their own operating theatres, more than police officers or fire fighters and nearly every other worker in the public and private sectors.”

He added that over the course of this pay dispute 150,000 sick and vulnerable people have seen their care disrupted. It was likely that over 110,000 outpatient appointments and over 12,500 operations would be cancelled over the two days, he added.

“Taking strike action is a choice and if they won’t listen to the health secretary I would urge them to listen to some of the country’s most experienced doctors – Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, Professor Dame Sally Davies and former Labour health minister Lord Darzi – who have all urged doctors to consider the damage both to patients and the reputation of the medical profession that it will cause.”

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