Junior doctors row escalates with series of five-date strikes

ADRIAN DENNIS via Getty ImagesDemonstrators and Junior doctors hold placards as they protest outside the Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital

The British Medical Association has announced three-further five day strikes in the run-up to Christmas, ramping up its bitter dispute with the Government over the new junior doctors’ contract.

The definition of a junior doctor is anyone below consultant level, ranging from a newly qualified doctor to an experienced senior registrar with a decade or more of experience.

Junior doctors are planning escalated industrial action unless the government stops the imposition of the new contract and agrees to further negotiation.

The junior doctor’s protest began when the Department of Health announced a contract which could cut junior doctors pay by 40 percent and make them work much longer hours.

In a sign that support for junior doctors is wavering The Patients Association said it was “gravely troubled” at the “catastrophic impact” the industrial action will have on patients and their families.

The BMA said concerns focus on the impact the contract will have on part-time workers and those who work the most weekends.

Junior doctors are to stage further industrial action.

“We recognise the frustration and alienation of doctors in training and indeed their right to take industrial action”.

Mr Hunt believes the changes will be a “significant step forward” towards his goal of a implementing a seven-day NHS without allocating any additional funding.

“I have to say it beggars belief that we can be accused of playing politics in this when the stated reason of the Government proceeding is that it was in their party manifesto”.

The BMA confirmed yesterday another five days’ worth of strikes this month, between September 12 and September 16 after Hunt confirmed he would continue to impose the contracts.

But Mid Sussex MP Sir Nicholas Soames said the BMA was the first trade union to call for strike action against a deal it “negotiated and pronounced a good one”.

He said: “I actually think in the 24/7 society that we live in, it is a very fair and reasonable deal”.

The latest planned strike action is the first since BMA members rejected the government’s final offer on the contract in a 58% to 42% vote in July, despite a recommendation to accept by the BMA’s leadership.

Dr McCourt said the contract, which will start being rolled out in October, “fails to treat all doctors fairly”. It is too important to be rushed to meet a political deadline.

“If Theresa May was serious about prioritising the NHS she would be working to solve this dispute and properly fund our National Health Service”.

He replied: “Health Secretary is never the most popular job in British politics because people are passionate about the NHS”.

Mrs May said: “The BMA should be putting patients first – not playing politics”.

“Trusts will be working hard to minimise disruption, but many thousands of operations and appointments will need to be cancelled or rearranged causing distress, delay and pain to our patients”. Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents the acute, ambulance, community and mental health services, said: “Junior doctors play a vital role in the running of the NHS”.