Junior doctors in England to stage longest strike in NHS history - dates of walkouts

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Junior doctors will strike as part of the ongoing row with the government over pay

Junior doctors in England will stage the longest single period of strike action in the history of the health service next month.

The British Medical Association (BMA) has confirmed that medics will walkout for five days from 13 to 18 July, in a dramatic escalation of the ongoing row with the government over pay.

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It comes following a recent 72-hour strike held this month from 14 June to 17 June, which led to thousands of hospital appointments and pre-planned operations being rescheduled or cancelled.

Junior doctors in England will strike for five days in July (Photo: Getty Images)Junior doctors in England will strike for five days in July (Photo: Getty Images)
Junior doctors in England will strike for five days in July (Photo: Getty Images) | AFP via Getty Images

The latest strike announcement follows a recent BMA survey which showed that junior doctors report being inundated with more opportunities to move abroad in the last four months than ever before. Just over half of the nearly 2,000 junior doctors surveyed said they have received more job advertisements from recruiters to overseas jobs since strikes were announced.

The government of South Australia even paid for trucks to be sent to junior doctor picket lines carrying job adverts offering improved pay if those doctors emigrated, it was revealed.

Co-chairs of the BMA junior doctors committee Dr Robert Laurenson and Dr Vivek Trivedi said: “The NHS is one of this country’s proudest achievements and it is shameful that we have a government seemingly content to let it decline to the point of collapse with decades of real-terms pay cuts to doctors driving them away.

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“With the 75th birthday of the NHS just days away, neglect of its workforce has left us with 7.4 million people on waiting lists for surgery and procedures, 8,500 unfilled doctors’ posts in hospitals, and doctors who can barely walk down the road without a foreign government tempting them to leave an NHS where they are paid £14 per hour for a country which will pay them properly.

“It has been almost a week since the last round of strikes finished but not once have we heard from Rishi Sunak or Steve Barclay in terms of reopening negotiations since their collapse of our talks and cancelling all scheduled meetings a month ago.

“What better indication of how committed they are to ending this dispute could we have? As their refusal to even discuss pay restoration leads to continued disruption to the health service, more than four-fifths of junior doctors report finding their patients supportive – they understand the value of a fully staffed and resourced NHS.

“We are announcing the longest single walkout by doctors in the NHS’s history – but this is not a record that needs to go into the history books. Even now the government can avert our action by coming to the table with a credible offer on pay restoration. Restoring pay can stem the flow of Australian job adverts in doctors’ social media feeds – and lead to a future 75 years of doctors being paid fairly, in a rebuilt workforce and NHS that this country can continue to be proud of.”

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The new strike dates follows three days of walkouts earlier this month after talks between the BMA and the government broke down in May. Health Secretary Steve Barclay said there needs to be “movement on both sides” amid the dispute, and insisted the government’s door remains open, before going on to accuse the BMA’s Junior Doctors Committee of refusing to budge from its 35% pay demand, despite bringing an intermediary to negotiations.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We made a fair and reasonable opening offer to the BMA and were in active discussions about both pay and non-pay issues. Unfortunately, it seems they are unwilling to move meaningfully away from unreasonable demands that would see doctors’ pay increase by either 35% this year, or at least 49% by next year, which were the two propositions they put on the table.

“We are working with NHS England to put in place contingency plans to protect patient safety. The NHS will prioritise resources to protect emergency treatment, critical care, neonatal care and trauma.”

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