'˜Sincere regret' as junior doctors announce strike action

Junior doctors are set to take to industrial action after talks between the BMA and government failed.

Junior doctors prepare for strike action as talks fail
Junior doctors prepare for strike action as talks fail

The announcement comes after the doctor’s union agreed to cancel three strikes last month to re-enter talks with the government.

But talks between the two parties with medicator Acas have since broken down.

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The British Medical Association (BMA) said the government has ‘continually failed’ to address junior doctors’ concerns, arguing government proposals to change their contracts would be ‘unsafe’ for patients and ‘unfair’ for doctors.

Doctors are arguing the changes – proposed to improve seven-day NHS services — will result in a pay cut.

The new contract proposes an 11 per cent rise in basic pay for junior doctors.

However, the number of hours during the week which are classed as ‘unsociable’ and therefore better paid – are being cut.

The government also proposes to scrap guaranteed pay increases, linked to time in the job, and replace them with a system where junior doctors progress through different stages in training.

The strike action is set to affect Surrey and Sussex Healthcare Trust (SASH) which runs East Surrey Hospital, Western Sussex NHS Foundation Trust which runs Worthing Hospital,St Richard’s Hospital and Southlands, Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals Trust (BSUH) which runs the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath and Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton, East Sussex Healthcare Trust which runs Conquest Hospital in Hastings and Eastbourne DGH.

The walk out is proposed for 24 hours on Tuesday, January 12, during which junior doctors will provide emergency care only.

There will be a second 48-hour period of emergency care only beginning on January 26 and a third day of action on February 10, which will see a full withdrawal labour between 8am and 5pm.

In November 98 per cent of junior doctors in England voted for industrial action.

Dr Mark Porter, BMA council chair, said: “Throughout this process the BMA has been clear that it wants to reach agreement on a contract that is good for patients, junior doctors and the NHS. This is why, despite overwhelming support for industrial action, the BMA instead sought conciliation talks with the Government, talks which were initially rejected and delayed by Jeremy Hunt.

“After weeks of further negotiations, it is clear that the Government is still not taking junior doctors’ concerns seriously. Furthermore, the Government has repeatedly dragged its feet throughout this process, initially rejecting our offer of talks and failing to make significant movement during negotiations.

“We sincerely regret the disruption that industrial action will cause, but junior doctors have been left with no option.

“It is because the Government’s proposals would be bad for patient care as well as junior doctors in the long-term that we are taking this stand.”

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