Junior Doctors In England Announce Four-Day Strike Next Month
Junior doctors striking in March 2023 (Alamy)
Junior doctors have announced a four-day-long walk out, claiming the government is “still refusing to make a credible offer” in their dispute over pay.
Junior doctor members of the BMA (British Medical Association) union in England will strike from 6:59am on 11 April until 6:59am on 15 April, as their talks with Health Secretary Steve Barclay on pay restoration have broken down.
The union has been asking for a pay rise to restore salaries following inflation-driven falls in real terms from levels seen in 2008.
The government has said that the BMA placed a "pre-condition on these talks of a 35 per cent pay rise" which they described as "unreasonable".
In a statement this morning, Dr Vivek Trivedi and Dr Robert Laurenson, co-chairs of the BMA junior doctor committee, said that the government has “dragged its feet at every opportunity” and “has not presented any credible offer and is refusing to accept that there is any case for pay restoration”.
They described the situation as “entirely of the government’s own making” with the NHS “buckling under a workforce crisis”.
“We are not going to stop until we are paid what we are worth, and if ministers don’t accept that when we tell them in person, we will have to tell them from the picket line,” they added.
The new action will follow on from a 72-hour long strike last week, which according to NHS England, led to 175,000 patient appointments and procedures being cancelled.
NHS England medical director Prof Sir Stephen Powis said last week: "Despite the huge efforts that NHS staff made to keep patients safe and minimise disruption, this strike was on an unprecedented scale and had a greater impact than all the other industrial action we have seen so far this winter combined.”
Last week, the BMA tweeted that they were “glad to hear” Barclay was “finally ready to discuss pay” and shared a letter asking for a meeting.
A spokesperson at the Department of Health said this afternoon: “Further strikes will risk patient safety and cause further disruption.
“The Health and Social Care Secretary met the BMA’s junior doctors committee yesterday in the hope of beginning constructive talks to resolve the current dispute.
“The BMA placed a pre-condition on these talks of a 35 per cent pay rise.
"That is unreasonable.
“Our door remains open to constructive conversations, as we have had with other health unions, to find a realistic way forward which balances rewarding junior doctors for their hard work while being fair to the taxpayer.”
A number of other unions in various industries have paused or suspended their strike action as talks with the government appear to be making progress.
Yesterday it was announced that the RMT rail workers union had suspended their strikes for next weekend following talks with rail bosses, while the National Education Union have also said they will not call any more strike dates while discussions are ongoing.
Ballots and consultations are soon likely on an NHS pay offer put forward by the government last week, which the Department of Health said would see a one-off payment plus a pay rise that would mean a newly qualified nurse would receive 5.5 per cent more.
PoliticsHome provides the most comprehensive coverage of UK politics anywhere on the web, offering high quality original reporting and analysis: Subscribe