The BMA says the failure of the Health Secretary to come to the table and negotiate a reversal of pay cuts of more than 26%, has left junior doctors in England with no option but to take strike action for three days from Monday 13th March.
Nearly 40,000 junior doctors voted to take industrial action in the recent ballot and hospital trusts and employers have now been notified that the 72-hour walk out will go ahead.
Twice in the past week junior doctors have called upon Steve Barclay to meet with them urgently, but so far no date is forthcoming. A meeting with Department of Health Civil servants earlier this week yielded nothing in terms of meaningful progress; Steve Barclay refused to attend. The co-chairs of the BMA junior doctors’ committee, Dr Rob Laurenson and Dr Vivek Trivedi, said patients and public alike need to know the blame for the strike action lies squarely at the Government’s door.
“Make no mistake, this strike was absolutely in the Government’s gift to avert; they know it, we know it and our patients also need to know it. We have tried, since last summer, to get each Health Secretary we have had, round the negotiating table. We have written many times and even as late as yesterday we were hopeful Steve Barclay would recognise the need to meet with us to find a workable solution that could have averted this strike. We have not been told why we have not been offered intensive negotiations nor what we need to do for the government to begin negotiations with us. We are left with no option but to proceed with this action.
“The fact that so many junior doctors in England have voted yes for strike action should leave Ministers in absolutely no doubt what we have known for a long time and have been trying to tell them, we are demoralised, angry and no longer willing to work for wages that have seen a real terms decline of over 26% in the past 15 years. This, together with the stress and exhaustion of working in an NHS in crisis, has brought us to this moment, brought us to a 72-hour walk out.
“How in all conscience, can the Health Secretary continue to put his head in the sand and hope that by not meeting with us, this crisis of his Government’s making, will somehow just disappear? It won’t, and patients and the public will continue to feel the brunt of his inaction, until he starts to negotiate with us and we agree a deal that truly values junior doctors and pays us what we are worth.”
Notes to editors
Junior doctors with shifts that begin after 06:59hrs on the 13th March will not be expected to attend for those shifts. However if a shift begins before 06:59hrs on the 13th, including night shifts that began on the 12th Mach, they are expected to conclude those shifts as normal and provide a handover.
For junior doctors with shifts before 06:59hrs on the 16th March, they are not expected to attend for those shifts. For shifts commencing after 06:59 hrs on the 16th March, junior doctors will attend for those shifts as normal.