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98% of junior doctors vote in favour of strike action

There has been almost unanimous support from junior doctors for strike action, with a turnout of 76%, the BMA has announced.

The results of the ballot have revealed that 99.4% of junior doctors voted in favour of industrial action short of a strike, while 98% voted in favour of strike action.

This was based on the turnout of 76% of the 37,000 junior doctors balloted, which included GP registrars.

The BMA has also announced that it has approached Acas with a view to holding conciliatory talks with the Department of Health over the health secretary’s plans to impose a contract that will remove safeguards for unsafe working, and will see rewards for weekend work taken away.

However, if the talks do not lead to agreement between the BMA and the DH, the two days of strikes and one day of providing only emergency care will take place next month.

Following the ballot, junior doctors will 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.

Under the Government’s proposals, GP trainees would see the removal of a guaranteed supplement that ensures they receive pay parity with their secondary care collegues. 

The GPC has issued guidance on the strikes, which reveals that GP practices could be picketed because industrial action laws specify that employees can only picket outside or close to their place of work.

However, it has called upon GPs to support the industrial action.

Dr Mark Porter, BMA council chair, said: ’We regret the inevitable disruption that this will cause but it is the Government’s adamant insistence on imposing a contract that is unsafe for patients in the future, and unfair for doctors now and in the future, that has brought us to this point.

’Patients are doctors’ first priority, which is why, even with such a resounding mandate, we are keen to avert the need for industrial action, which is why we have approached Acas to offer conciliatory talks with the health secretary and NHS Employers to clarify the conflicting information coming from government over the past weeks.

’The health secretary is right when he says this action is ”wholly avoidable. Our message to him is that junior doctors have today made their views perfectly clear but that it is still possible to get back around the negotiating table to deliver a contract that is safe for patients, contains the necessary contractual safeguards to prevent junior doctors being overworked and properly recognises evening and weekend work.’

Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, said: ’Today’s announcement is disappointing and will result in thousands of NHS patients, their families and carers being concerned that their planned care and treatment will be disrupted during December. NHS organisations are now working hard to keep disruption to a minimum but it is inevitable that appointments will be postponed, surgery rearranged and clinics closed.

’By taking the unprecedented step of not providing emergency cover for two of their days of action, the BMA are putting the NHS and their colleagues under even greater strain during one of its busiest periods impacting even further on our ability to provide safe and effective care for our patients.

’Even at this late stage, we call for the BMA to return to talks. The new contract offers increases in basic pay, concrete safeguards on working hours and pay protection to ensure that doctors won’t lose out. I think the public will question why the BMA are causing such significant disruption when the offer of talks remains open.’