BMA responds to Government announcement on minimum service levels during strike action

by BMA media team

BMA press release

Location: England
Published: Tuesday 19 September 2023
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Responding to news that the Government is considering imposing new strike action restrictions, Professor Phil Banfield, chair of BMA council, said:

“If this government was serious about patient safety, it would not have deliberately run down the health service over the last 10 years, with the terrible, adverse effects that austerity has had on the health of the nation every day. The BMA has been clear that any strike action taken by members preserves minimum levels of staffing to ensure patient safety. We have always maintained that consultants and junior doctors together, will never stage a full walk out and we have been clear that we are not planning to do so, with urgent and emergency care continuing to run. It is disingenuous for the Secretary of State to say otherwise.

“These regulations add further to what we’ve seen from this Government in attempting to stifle the right for doctors to act collectively and fight for better pay and conditions in their workplace. Even before the recent Strikes Bill, the UK has some of the tightest restrictions on trade union activity in Europe, and now with threats that could see individuals sacked if they do not comply with these new laws it feels like another kick in the teeth to our profession, the very experts this government needs to deliver on its waiting list promise to the public. NHS employer organisations have also warned that such restrictions could make dispute situations more difficult for them in terms of agreeing local service levels of staffing, meaning such changes would be entirely counterproductive.

“This week’s industrial action comes as a result of this Government failing to address the unprecedented staffing crisis that is engulfing our NHS, and betraying the doctors who they applauded through the pandemic, by failing to value the work they now do to help the NHS back into its feet. The only route to ending these strikes is for the Government to drop its opposition to negotiating a new pay deal and get round the table with doctors with a credible offer. Rather than focusing on strike days, ministers should be looking to make sure that our health service is safely staffed for 365 days a year.”

Notes to editors

The BMA is a professional association and trade union representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.