The BMA has announced dates for hospital consultants in England to go on strike, should their ballot be successful.
The union is currently balloting its consultant members for industrial action over pay cuts, with the results expected shortly after the vote closes on 27 June.
It said that if the ballot is successful and the Government ‘continues to refuse to come forward with a credible pay offer’, consultants will walk out on 20 and 21 July.
During the two days of action, consultants would provide ‘Christmas Day cover’, meaning they would continue to provide all emergency services but routine services would be paused.
The BMA said it is announcing potential strike dates ahead of the ballot closing to give hospital trusts and colleagues ‘good notice so that preparations can be made to reschedule appointments, prioritise the most urgent cases and ensure patient safety’ during industrial action.
BMA consultants committee chair Dr Vishal Sharma said: ‘Strike action is not inevitable and it is well within the Government’s gift to present us with a reasonable offer that would stop industrial action in its tracks.
‘But if this isn’t forthcoming, we are committed to action that is effective and that is safe. As the most senior and experienced doctors working in hospitals, no one can cover for consultants – and that’s why we’re giving our members, our colleagues and employers lengthy time to prepare, even ahead of our ballot closing.
‘That way they can manage their lists and prioritise those patients most in need of care. We are also reiterating that any strike action will still deliver Christmas Day levels of care – meaning emergency departments will still be open and staffed with consultants.’
Dr Sharma said that consultants ‘do not take decisions around industrial action lightly’, but that the action isn’t just about pay, but also about protecting the future of the NHS, adding: ‘If we sit by and accept further real-terms pay cuts we will continue to lose more of our most senior and experienced clinicians at a time when the NHS and patients need them most.
‘We want to create an environment in the NHS that consultants want to work in, and that junior doctors can see their future in. Industrial action is a last resort, but there is simply no justification for consultants today being valued a third less than they were 15 years ago.
‘The Government now has six weeks to come back to the table, with a fair and reasonable proposal that can prevent any industrial action from having to take place.’
Meanwhile, further industrial action will be undertaken by junior doctors as they will walk out for three days next week (14-17 June), following their latest strike in April.
The motion said GPs should ‘take a similar approach’ to junior doctors and ‘must consider’ industrial action to ‘achieve full pay restoration’.