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Devolved nations target junior doctor recruitment after strike ballot

Governments in Scotland and Wales are encouraging junior doctors in England to jump ship and work across the borders following the huge vote in favour of strike action today.

Scottish Government first minister Nicola Sturgeon and first minister of Wales Carwyn Jones have started opportunistic recruitment drives after 98% of junior doctors voted in favour of taking three days of strike and industrial action next month.

The two devolved nations have already said they will not be imposing a contract on junior doctors, which is the main point of contention in the dispute between the BMA and health secretary Jeremy Hunt.

They are both undergoing problems recruiting doctors, and especially GPs, and the SNP and Labour led administrations have attempted to use the dispute as a marketing tool.

Ms Sturgeon said junior doctors would be more ‘valued’ if they came to work in Scotland.

She tweeted: ‘This is a massive vote for strike in England. NHS Scotland open to junior docs who want to be valued by government.’

Scottish Government health secretary Shona Robison said: ‘Strike action should only ever be used as a last resort, and the fact that junior doctors have voted to strike today shows a clear failing and breakdown of relationships with the UK Government.’

Ms Robison added: ‘In Scotland we’re determined to maintain our longstanding positive relationship with NHS staff, working with them to improve and shape services for the future.

‘In contrast to the UK approach we will move towards negotiations when the time is right for Scottish circumstances.’

Mr Jones directed doctors via a Tweet to an NHS Wales medical careers website, which highlights job vacancies and ‘miles of breath-taking coastlines and peaceful countryside where you can get away from it all.’

Another section of the website states: ‘Train as a junior doctor in Wales and get a flexible rewarding career where your voice counts, as well as significant training opportunities.’

Mr Jones Tweeted: ‘My message to England’s junior doctors – make your future part of our future here in Wales!’

The dispute centres around the health secretary’s plans to impose a contract that will remove safeguards against unsafe working hours and cut rewards for weekend work.

The BMA balloted 37,000 junior doctors, including GP registrars, which delivered a huge mandate for the rejection of the contract, with a thumping 98% majority in favour of an all-out strike on a 76% turn-out.

The first day of action is set for Tuesday 1 December when junior doctors will provide only emergency cover for 24 hours, after which they plan to stage a full walk-out from 8am to 5pm on Tuesday 8 December, and another at the same time on Wednesday 16 December.