Junior doctors in England have voted in favour of strike action and will now prepare for a 72-hour walkout next month.
The vote saw a record turnout of 77%, with 98% voting in favour of strikes. Junior doctors will now walk out for 72 hours during March.
More than 47,600 junior doctors were eligible to vote in the BMA’s ballot last month, with almost 37,000 votes cast.
The BMA said that this was the largest ever turnout for a ballot of doctors by the association and a record number of junior doctors voting for strike action.
BMA junior doctors committee co-chairs Dr Robert Laurenson and Dr Vivek Trivedi said: ‘This vote shows, without a shadow of a doubt, the strength of feeling among most of England’s junior doctors.
‘We are frustrated, in despair and angry and we have voted in our thousands to say, “in the name of our profession, our patients, and our NHS, doctors won’t take it anymore.”
‘The Government has only itself to blame, standing by in silent indifference as our members are forced to take this difficult decision.
‘We have had a real-terms pay cut of more than 26 % since 2008. This year we were offered an insulting 2% pay, which means with inflation at over 10%, we are working more than a month for free.
‘Added to that, ever-worsening conditions mean more doctors are being lured away from the NHS to seek better paid medical careers and quality of life elsewhere.
‘There is no doubt that this is a crisis, but it is of the Government’s making – so far refusing to have any meaningful discussions with us about pay. The road to recovery must start with Ministers listening to us and paying us what we’re worth.’
Health secretary Steve Barclay said: ‘We hugely value the work of junior doctors and it is deeply disappointing some union members have voted for strike action.
‘As part of a multi-year deal we agreed with the BMA, junior doctors pay has increased by a cumulative 8.2% since 2019/20. We also introduced a higher pay band for the most experienced staff and increased rates for night shifts.
‘I’ve met with the BMA and other medical unions to discuss what is fair and affordable, as well as wider concerns around conditions and workload. I want to continue discussing how we can make the make the NHS a better place to work for all.’
A spokesperson from the Doctors’ Association said: ‘We urge the government and relevant pay bodies to commit to full pay restoration for junior doctors.
‘We maintain that this is paramount for the financial security of junior doctors as well as the long-term viability and effectiveness of the NHS as a whole.
‘We recognise that junior doctors are vital to the NHS and that sub-inflationary pay rises are unforgivable.
‘The failure to address this is having an adverse effect on the general morale of doctors and their livelihoods. Continued inaction on this issue is preventing their retention and is not sustainable.’
The ballot results are as follows:
- Number entitled to vote: 47,692
- Number of votes cast in the ballot: 36,955 (votes cast in the ballot as a percentage of individuals who were entitled to vote: 77.49%)
- Number of YES votes: 36,218 (98.06%)
- Number of NO votes: 716 (1.94%)
- Number of spoiled or otherwise invalid voting papers returned: 21