The BMA has announced that junior doctors are set to take five-day continuous strike action this month over the imposition of the contract by health secretary Jeremy Hunt.
BMA Council met today and decided to authorise a full withdrawal of labour for five days, between the hours of 8am and 5pm from Monday 12 September – Friday 16 September inclusive, followed by further dates to be confirmed.
The JDC said in July it was looking at what ‘next steps’ to take in the contract row, following the Government’s announcement that it will be imposed from October.
Although previous BMA negotiators had accepted the contract, junior doctors rejected the contract offer by 58% of the vote in a ballot. This followed six days of walkouts in protests over contract changes earlier in the year.
Dr Ellen McCourt, BMA junior doctors committee chair, said: ’The Government has consistently said this is about creating a seven-day NHS, when junior doctors already work weekends and it’s been shown that the Government has no answer to how it will staff and fund extra weekend care.
’With just weeks before the first group of doctors is moved onto the imposed contract, time is running out. This contract will be in place for many years, it will have a direct impact on patient care and whether we can attract and keep enough doctors in the NHS. It is too important to be rushed to meet a political deadline.
’We have a simple ask of the Government: stop the imposition. If it agrees to do this, junior doctors will call off industrial action.’
A DH spokesperson said: ’As doctors’ representatives, the BMA should be putting patients first not playing politics in a way that will be immensely damaging for vulnerable patients. What’s more, the BMA must be the first union in history to call for strike action against a deal they themselves negotiated and said was a good one.
’Whilst there are many pressures on the frontline, funding is at record levels, with the highest number of doctors employed in the history of the NHS. Co-operation not confrontation is the way forward to make sure patients get the best treatment and the NHS is there for people whenever they need it.’
NHS Employers said they were ‘shocked and saddened’ by the BMA’s decision.