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Strikes begin despite last minute plea from PM and NHS calls to stop pickets, and student nurses march in thousands

The junior doctors strike dominates health news today and makes the front page of the Telegraph amid a flurry of tributes to recently deceased David Bowie.

The Telegraph story says that the NHS medical director, Sir Bruce Keogh, has written to hospitals telling them to order junior doctors back to work if staff numbers fall below levels needed for safe care.

The move sparked fury from the BMA who accused him of threatening doctor’s right to strike. It comes after Sir Bruce previously signed a Government drafted letter to medics warning that a terror attack could be made worse by strike action.

Today’s strikes proceed despite a last minute plea from David Cameron, who said that junior doctors were striking on information that simply was not true.

The Guardian reports the Prime Minister said: ‘Even at this late stage, pull out of the strike, get round the table, there is always more that can be be discussed. This strike is not necessary, it will be damaging. We will do everything we can to mitigate its effects but you cannot have a strike on this scale in our NHS without real difficulties for patients and potentially worse.’

Pulse is running its own live blog of the industrial action, and will be visiting a picket at a London GP practice.

The strike comes on the back of protests by student nurses, midwives and unions, who yesterday marched in their thousands in London, Manchester and Newcastle, the Independent reports.

The march in protest of the Government’s plan to remove bursaries for students to study nursing and will leave them £50,000 in debt after completing a three year degree.

The march was joined by political leaders, including Natalie Bennet leader of the Green Party who accused the government of hitting a new low.