Responding to news of appointments cancelled due to strike action last week, and the Health Secretary's comments in the House of Commons today, Dr Vivek Trivedi and Dr Robert Laurenson, BMA junior doctors committee co-chairs, said:
“Junior doctors know all too well the frustration of patients waiting too long for care, and with a waiting list of 7.2 million in England, we are facing difficult conversations with them every single day.
“These millions of patients are not in this position because of strikes though. Persistent under-resourcing of the health service and under-valuing staff – exacerbated by a pandemic – mean we simply don’t have the workforce and capacity to provide the high-quality and timely care that patients need and deserve.
“This is why we have been led to strike, and while we share the frustration of anyone who had their care disrupted during the industrial action, this is the same frustration we’re already experiencing on a daily basis because the NHS cannot cope.
“The Secretary of State said in the House of Commons today that he recognised ‘junior doctors have been under significant pay pressure and workforce pressure’ which is ‘why he wants to sit down with them’. This is an incredible act of double-speak, given his lack of engagement with us so far indicates the exact opposite.
“While we have said we are happy to talk any time, anywhere, Mr Barclay continues to demand that we drop our opening position of calling for a reversal of the pay erosion experienced by junior doctors before he will even enter discussions. This does not sound like someone who understands the pay pressures junior doctors are under, nor someone who wants to sit down with us.
“The Secretary of State says we are the ones being unreasonable, but is it not completely unreasonable to ask the other side to abandon their starting point before we even get in the room? We’ve made our starting position and reason behind it very clear, yet have had nothing in return from Government.
“It is squarely in Mr Barclay and the Government’s gift to stop this dispute and prevent any further disruption.
“So once again we urge them to drop their barriers to talks and meet with us in good faith, whether that is through the conciliation service Acas, or directly, so that we can solve this dispute for the good of junior doctors, patients and the NHS.”
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.