The BMA has announced a three-day junior doctor strike on 13, 14 and 15 March based on the health secretary’s failure to ‘come to the table’ to negotiate pay.
The walk-out, starting at 7am on the Monday, follows a recent ballot in which nearly 40,000 junior doctors voted to take industrial action.
Health secretary Steve Barclay has refused to attend meetings called for by junior doctors in the past week leaving them ‘with no option’, according to the BMA.
Junior doctors are seeking to negotiate a reversal of real-terms pay cuts of more than 26%, but the BMA said a meeting with Department of Health and Social Care civil servants this week ‘yielded nothing in terms of meaningful progress’.
Co-chairs of the BMA junior doctors’ committee, Dr Rob Laurenson and Dr Vivek Trivedi, said patients and the public should know ‘the blame for the strike action lies squarely at the Government’s door.
They said they have been trying since last summer to negotiate with the health secretary but have had no substantive response and no indication of what is needed for negotiations to begin.
More than 47,600 junior doctors were eligible to vote in the BMA’s ballot last month, with almost 37,000 votes cast and 98% voting in favour of strikes.
Dr Laurenson and Dr Trivedi said: ‘The fact that so many junior doctors in England have voted yes for strike action should leave ministers in absolutely no doubt what we have known for a long time and have been trying to tell them, we are demoralised, angry and no longer willing to work for wages that have seen a real terms decline of over 26 percent in the past 15 years.
‘This, together with the stress and exhaustion of working in an NHS in crisis, has brought us to this moment, brought us to a 72 hour walk out.’
They added: ‘How in all conscience, can the Health Secretary continue to put his head in the sand and hope that by not meeting with us, this crisis of his Government’s making, will somehow just disappear?
‘It won’t, and patients and the public will continue to feel the brunt of his inaction, until he starts to negotiate with us and we agree a deal that truly values junior doctors and pays us what we are worth.’
Hospital trusts and employers have been notified of the 72-hour strike, which GP trainees will be able to join from the picket line or close to the hospital they are currently working in.