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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)

  • I always take anything reported in the Telegraph with a pinch of salt, but can it be true that the BMA took legal action to try to stop the GMC from issuing guidance regarding striking doctors position?

    'But the High Court last week threw out the attempt to prevent publication of the guidance, ordering the BMA to pay costs.'

    Those considering strike action need to be making an informed decision both about the possible consequences for their individual futures and for their patients safety. The BMA should have sought guidance for their members from every angle, not waste members money trying to hide it.

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  • As a dentist I can tell you that there is great sympathy within my profession for the plight of the junior doctors.
    I posted the following on a dental blog this morning, and it might be of interest to your readers.
    The GMC has just demonstrated the fact that it is no longer mainly a professional regulator whose main purpose is to promote high standards and protect the public from unethical and/or incompetent doctors.
    It is now more an enforcement arm of governmental and departmental policy, paid for by the doctors themselves.
    This is something that we dentists have known about our own regulator for some time, but it is nevertheless deeply depressing to see the GMC engage is such bullying tactics, clearly under political instruction from the DH.
    Given that for all medical graduates in the UK the NHS is the only viable employer which provides any real prospect of career advancement in medicine, the GMC's statement that any doctor going on strike runs the risk of facing a FtP process for "harming patients" makes medical careers in the UK the nearest thing to indentured servitude in the modern western world.
    Recent (and not do recent) graduates with huge student debts have in reality only three choices.
    Get out of medicine, get out of the country, or work within the NHS.
    Because medicine, like dentistry, is a very specific training the graduates are not well placed to compete with other graduates for jobs in different fields.
    The GMC has stated that any doctor who goes on strike runs the risk of facing FtP if "any" patient who would be presumed to have been denied care as a consequence came to harm as a result.
    That is not logical. It is blatant bullying tactics.
    It is like charging every firefighter with manslaughter if anybody dies in a fire when they are on strike.
    It effectively makes striking illegal for all doctors, turning them into modern day slaves, whose only option is to quit a profession that they have worked extremely hard over a decade or more and paid a small fortune to enter.
    It could be equally claimed that any doctor working within the NHS is currently putting all patients at risk by working within a system that is so inadequately funded, and where the combination of long hours and poor pay so reduces their own morale as to make them less than adequately safe and effective.
    In their words, it could be considered to be unethical not to go on strike, because a short period of denial if serve could result in a far better service in the longer term.
    The GMC itself, just like the GDC, could be accused of putting patients at risk by supporting such a poorly funded service and by helping the DH to drive the morale of the relevant professions into the dirt.
    If the regulators are going to continue to act as the enforcers of the DH's bidding, then at least we should no longer be required to pay an ARF to fund our own persecutors.
    Audoen Healy

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  • This actually made me laugh when I heard that the GMC are threatening to strike doctors off the register.
    After the GMC made revalidation impossible as I worked outside the NHS, I then wanted to take my name off the GMC register as I did not want to continue paying them for nothing.
    However what I thought would be simple was far from it as it took me ages to convince the GMC to remove my name from the register and I had to jump through many time consuming hoops. Eventually I managed to escape their grasping clutches and my name is finally off the register.
    Should have gone on strike! It would have been much easier and will soon be cheaper due to the new charges being introduced!

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  • GMC are obviously now a quasi government body. Why the ...... are we forced into funding the government????

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  • Please correct me if I'm mistaken but none of the healthcare regulators have set safe standards for staffing or work load levels? Surely this is the first thing which needs to be addressed???

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  • Una Coales

    Your support and that of fellow dentists is very welcome Dr Healy. The BMA ballot for strike action for junior doctors closes in 2 days. They have my full support.

    It begs the question, when will NHS GPs be given a ballot on industrial action (have been asking since 2014) or are they to keep stumm and work 7/7, continue to burnout, to emigrate, to retire early until there are no NHS GPs but fast tracked science majors, noctors, pharmacists covering GP posts?

    Without GPs seeing the bulk of NHS patients, how can junior doctors be shielded from the huge deluge of patients descending on hospital A&Es and clinics when there are no GPs to field and treat the majority of patients at an incredibly fast 10-minute per consultation pace.

    Without IMGs, general practice recruitment plummets. Without GPs, the NHS struggles and cracks. Shame the RCGP did not offer IMGs an exam with 2 examiners per station and videos for fair appeals. Shame the BMA did not give GPs a ballot on strike or work to rule action. You reap what you sow.

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  • It would be interesting if the BMA were to seek legal advice on any potential law breaking by the GMC (relating to hundreds of doctor deaths during its investigations, breaches of Human Rights, Corporate Manslaughter?, the lack of evidence base around what it does, delays, poor performance, compensation to 'members' whose lives it has destroyed) and explore its charity status and its fees under judicial reviews?

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  • Always interesting reading comments by Una Coales. I simply don't think the mistake associated with the CSA and the IMGs will ever be realised. It seems the flowing tap that was IMGs into VTS had been reduced to a trickle.

    I wonder if the BMA will have developed a taste for industrial action if the junior doctors' are successful.
    We live in hope!

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  • I support the strike .
    If doctors back down now we are finished.
    The politicians have pushed doctors to the limits .
    Sad if the populace do not see beyond the governments plans but ultimately doctors need to fight for their rights as no one else will. Bravo.
    I wish GPS would have the gall to do the same

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