Junior doctors set to stage the longest strike in the history of the NHS as talks break down

Junior doctors set to stage the longest strike in the history of the NHS as talks break down

Representatives from the British Medical Association (BMA) and government ministers have been locked in lengthy discussions over the ongoing pay dispute.

Talks have now broken down and junior doctors are set to stage the largest strike in the history of the NHS.

The Department for Health and Social Care were unable to put a valid offer on the table to end strike action.

The BMA’s junior doctors committee has voted unanimously for industrial action over December and again in January 2024.

Junior doctors were offered a 3% pay rise on top of the average 8.8% which was given early this year in the summer months.

On 20 December junior doctors will walk out and again on 23 December, 3 January and 9 January 2024 from 7am on those dates.

The strikes will last for six days in January 2024 which will represent the longest period of strikes action in the history of the NHS the BMA union said.

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Health and Social Care Secretary Victoria Atkins said that the government will “immediately look to come back to the table” if the junior doctors’ call off the strikes.

The strike action has filled the hospital leaders with dread and gave a grim warning that this will “undermine efforts to cut waiting lists,” which the Prime Minister has listed as one of his key priorities.

BMA junior doctors committee co-chairmen Dr Robert Laurenson and Dr Vivek Trivedi said in a statement: “We have been clear from the outset of these talks that we needed to move at pace and, if we did not have a credible offer, we would be forced to call strikes.

“After five weeks of intense talks, the Government was unable to present a credible offer on pay by the deadline.

“Instead, we were offered an additional 3%, unevenly spread across doctors’ grades, which would still amount to pay cuts for many doctors this year. It is clear the Government is still not prepared to address the real-terms pay cut doctors have experienced since 2008.

“It is a great shame that, even though the approach was more constructive, there was not enough on offer to shape a credible deal, which we hoped would end the dispute.

“Without enough progress by the deadline, we have no choice but to take action that demonstrates doctors are as determined as ever in reversing their pay cuts.

“However, we can still avoid the need for these strikes. We will be ready and willing any time the Government wants to talk.

“If a credible offer can be presented the day before, or even during any action, these strikes can be cancelled.

“The approach from Ms Atkins and the team has been productive but ultimately that alone is not sufficient to make up for 15 years of declining pay.

“A year after our dispute started, we are still too far from turning the tide on plummeting pay, morale, and retention of doctors.

“Rather than waste more time and money and have further disruption to patient care, the Health Secretary needs to make a credible offer now.”

Ms Atkins said: “It is disappointing that, despite significant progress, the BMA junior doctors committee have walked away from negotiations and declared new strikes, which will result in more disruption for patients and extra pressure on NHS services and staff as we enter a busy winter period, risking patient safety.

“I have been clear that I respect the work of doctors in training and want to work with them to settle this dispute.

“We have agreed a fair and reasonable offer with the BMA’s consultants committee which is being put to members for vote following constructive talks.

“If the junior doctors committee call off their strikes, we will immediately look to come back to the table to continue negotiations.”

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