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Junior doctors to stage full walk-out under BMA plans for industrial action

The BMA is proposing that junior doctors stage a full walk-out, with no provision of emergency care, if members vote in favour of industrial action.

Its council today agreed the details of the potential industrial action, on which it is currently balloting junior doctor members.

If members vote in favour of industrial action, junior doctors would provide emergency care only for 24 hours from 8am on Tuesday 1 December.

This will be followed by a full walk-out from 8am to 5pm on Tuesday 8 December, and another at the same time on Wednesday 16 December.

This is in contrast to the industrial action held in 2012 in protest at the pensions changes, during which doctors continued to provide emergency care.

The industrial action is being proposed amid an ongoing row between the BMA’s Junior Doctors Committee and the Government, which has threatened to impose a contract on trainees that will see them given far less reward for weekend working and will remove safeguards around safe working hours.

Under the Government’s proposals, GP trainees would see the removal of a guaranteed supplement that ensures they are receive pay parity with their secondary care collegues.  

The BMA has said it is releasing the details at this early stage ‘in order to ensure that the necessary cover can be put in place to minimise disruption to other NHS staff and, above all, to patients’.

Dr Mark Porter, BMA council chair, said: ‘Our dispute is with the Government and our ballot for industrial action is a last resort in the face of their continued threat to impose a new contract.

‘Industrial action is the last resort for a reason: it comes only when every other avenue has been exhausted.

‘The BMA has been explicit in what it needs to change in junior doctor contract proposals. The Government’s refusal to work with us through genuine negotiations, and its continued threat to impose an unsafe and unfair contract leaves us with no alternative.’

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt had stepped in with a last-minute offer on the eve of the ballot opening, which he claimed would see junior doctors being given an 11% increase to basic pay.

However, the BMA has repeatedly said that it will negotiate with the Government only when Mr Hunt lifts his threat of a contract imposition, while Government claims that only 1% of doctors will receive a pay reduction have been questioned.

Pulse revealed that the vast majority of senior GPs supported GP registrars and junior doctors taking industrial action, while the GP trainees surveyed said they would vote in favour of the proposals.

Dr Louise Clift, a GP registrar in Gloucestershire, said she would be voting in favour of industrial action, and dismissed claims that the new offer would result in a pay rise,

She said: ’Jeremy Hunt is completely barking up the wrong tree if he thinks he can pull the wool over our eyes with an ”11% pay rise”. This is nothing more than a pay cut for me and the majority of my junior doctor colleagues.’

Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, said: ’We know this will have a huge impact on patient care and we urge the BMA to avoid putting patients and the NHS in this position by returning to talks with us.

’Proposed strike action, as outlined by the BMA would be hugely regrettable. Employers across the NHS will be extremely disappointed and anxious about the difficult situation they will find themselves in to make sure work schedules are met and patient care is not compromised.’

The ballot closes on 18 November.  


Readers' comments (60)

  • @6.10
    Forget about public opinion. Things have gone too far. The NHS is already in slow collapse with unsafe work loads, doctors retiring, emigrating...There is no other way than a full strike

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  • Forget the handwringing, there will be consultant cover for emergencies. Bring it on!

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  • I think that if we are weak now then this action will not be taken seriously and nothing much will change. If we show we mean business then the government and the public will have to listen.
    If we do not show we are serious, then we may not get a second chance for action as situations change. Otherwise the result will be the imposition of the new contract and many many junior doctors will leave the NHS and medicine.
    Serious times require serious actions. I do not think that Junior Doctors have a choice here but to protest as strongly as they can while they can.

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  • all i can say is we never had the guts to do this.i hope you guys have,don't be abused.

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  • Public opinion is not important.
    Doctors have 90% trust from the public, politicians have 16%. (Ipsos Mori)
    People hate tube drivers but they still use the tube.
    Patients are queuing for months to see us, and all branches of medicine are busier than ever, so they will keep coming.

    This IS a pay cut, as at every 6months the junior doctors will move to jobs at a lower pay than they would have had under pay progression in the old system, with worse rotas. This is therefore a pay cut relative to their position compared to the old system.

    This is not a fight for the NHS however, as it may be that the only way to keep a tax funded NHS is to cut all staff pay! What it may do is precipitate the end of a totally tax funded NHS, by revealing what resources are really needed for high quality staff and healthcare.

    I would welcome this.

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  • Let a condition of further negotiations with the government be that this joke of a Health Secretary be removed from his post.

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  • It is quite possible that the intention of this governmant is to make the job of a doctor so untenable that we resign. Again the intention could be that doctors will form private companies resulting in the end of the NHS for all. I am sure that there will be a skeletal NHS service for the poor i.e. those that cannot afford the new enlarged private service. Certainly Osborne has no intention of putting more money into the NHS, despite the ever increasing number of elderly and increasing demand for access to health care. All the blame could then easily be put onto doctors, as being greedy and lacking the ability to accept the austerity measures that are being forced onto most of the population.

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  • GPs cannot strike as we are self employed.
    we can support our junior colleagues by passive resistance.
    Not enough appointments today but here is your MPs address and an appointment for tomorrow (or go to AE which is falling apart because the politicians are trying to destroy the NHS)

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  • Fire them all.There is no shortage of youngsters wanting to be doctors.We need individuals for whom medicine is a vocation rather than those who put their own interests above their patients'.

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  • There are two issues for me.
    1. pay
    2. Conditions.
    Firstly conditions. The Gov. has stopped financial penalties for trusts if doctors work more than 52 hrs per week. Some junior doctors are working 70 hrs for 12 days on the trot. With no penalties on trusts all will be working 70 hrs as a routine. Some older doctors will say well we worked 100-120 hr per week. Well in the old days you did get some sleep , young doctors are chased around the hospital by senior nurses working across specialties. They literally don't have time to eat and drink and have taken to carrying water bottles around. Hunt says that he is reducing hrs from 90 hr per week to 70 , but only 400 or so juniors do 90 hrs 40,000 don't.
    Pay . well this is probably not the main factor, but junior doctors start on £22000 per year after 5 years training. In 1980 I started on £12000 and as a SHO was on £15000 GPs at the time may have earned £25-30,000 Juniors should be earning over £30,000 if their pay had gone up proportionally. The 11% pay rise offered is in the face of a 15% pay rise recommended by the DDRB
    Juniors are being forced to strike, who can blame them.

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