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BMA to escalate junior doctors’ strike action

Junior doctors have agreed to ‘escalate’ their action around the contract imposition, which would include ‘considering all options’.

In an email to junior doctors today, JDC chair Johann Malawana said: ‘The JDC voted today to move towards an escalation of its planned action.’

In a statement to Pulse, he said that the Government’s refusal to continue talks with junior doctors had left them with ‘no alternative but to consider all options open to them’.

There is no detail about what this escalation would involve, but they had planned earlier this year to withdraw all emergency cover, but did not go through with the action.

Junior doctors have already held a 48-hour strike since the imposition of the junior doctor contract, with two more planned for early and late April.

The BMA is also taking the Government to judicial review over the ‘embarrassing’ revelation that the Government failed to carry out an equality impact assessment before imposing a new contract on junior doctors in England.

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But following the meeting today, the BMA is considering taking more action.

Dr Malawana said: ‘The Government’s refusal to get back around the table and to reach agreement through talks has left junior doctors with no alternative but to consider all options open to them.

‘Let me be clear, no junior doctor wants to have to take industrial action. Junior doctors want a negotiated settlement, but the Government is refusing to engage with the BMA.’

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt last month announced that he was imposing a contract on junior doctors after talks broke down over the issue of evening and weekend pay, with the Government refusing to step back from its decision to remove ‘unsociable hours’ pay premiums from Saturdays and weekday evenings.

What the imposed contract includes

The junior doctor contract imposed by health secretary Jeremy Hunt includes:

  • An increase in basic pay of 13.5%;
  • Redefining the definition of ‘plain time’ to include Saturday from 7am to 5pm;
  • Paying a premium of 30% for Saturday ‘plain time’ working, if the doctor works one in four weekends;
  • Reduce the definition of ‘safe hours’ from 91 to 72 hours a week;
  • Doctors will not work more than four consecutive nights – down from seven currently;
  • The maximum number of consecutive ‘long days’ will be reduced from seven to five;
  • A new ‘Guardian’ role will be introduced, with the authority to impose fines for breaches to agreed working hours, which will be invested in educational resources and facilities for trainees.

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