Junior doctors strike: Fresh round of industrial action announced after talks over pay 'break down'
Junior doctors are set to go on strike in the latest round of industrial action ahead of Christmas, the union said. The government and British Medical Association said the workers have voted to walk out in December and January after talks between the Government and the union broke down.
The BMA said junior doctors would strike from 7am on December 20 to 7am on December 23 and from 7am on January 3 to 7am on January 9.
BMA junior doctors committee co-chairs Dr Robert Laurenson and Dr Vivek Trivedi said: “We have been clear from the outset of these talks that we needed to move at pace and if we did not have a credible offer, we would be forced to call strikes. After five weeks of intense talks, the government was unable to present a credible offer on pay by the deadline.
“Instead, we were offered an additional 3%, unevenly spread across doctors’ grades, which would still amount to pay cuts for many doctors this year. It is clear the government is still not prepared to address the real-terms pay cut doctors have experienced since 2008.
“It is a great shame that even though the approach was more constructive, there was not enough on offer to shape a credible deal, which we hoped would end the dispute. Without enough progress by the deadline, we have no choice but to take action that demonstrates doctors are as determined as ever in reversing their pay cuts.
“However, we can still avoid the need for these strikes. We will be ready and willing any time the Government wants to talk. If a credible offer can be presented the day before, or even during any action, these strikes can be cancelled.
“The approach from Ms Atkins (Health Secretary Victoria Atkins) and the team has been productive but ultimately that alone is not sufficient to make up for 15 years of declining pay.
“A year after our dispute started, we are still too far from turning the tide on plummeting pay, morale, and retention of doctors. Rather than waste more time and money and have further disruption to patient care, the Health Secretary needs to make a credible offer now.”
The Prime Minister's official spokesman said the new strikes were "disappointing" and would result in "more disruption for patients and put pressure on NHS services and other NHS staff as we enter a busy winter period and that risks patients' safety".
"Both the dates before Christmas and the dates at the start of January are some of the most challenging times within the NHS, as the junior doctors will be aware of," he continued. "We respect the work of doctors in training, we want to settle this dispute," he continued. "We have agreed a fair and reasonable offer with the BMA's consultants committee, which is being put to members to vote following the talks."
The spokesman said the government had been making "significant progress" in negotiations and if the junior doctors called off their strikes they would immediately go back to the table to continued negotiations.