Responding to the Government's invitation to trade unions to come to the table and plans for legislation enforcing 'minimum service levels', Dr Emma Runswick, BMA deputy chair of council, said:
"This Government has failed to ensure anything like minimum standards of patient care or service delivery in the NHS for many months, if not years. It is therefore laughable that Ministers are now attempting to bring in anti-union and anti-worker legislation under the false pretence of improving patient safety.
"Rather than fixing the root of the problem - the reasons why so many public sector workers feel they have no option but to strike - ministers are focussing their attention on the rules around industrial action. They are willing to risk infringing human rights while doing nothing about the NHS pay and working conditions crises they refuse to even acknowledge.
"Steve Barclay is the first Health Secretary since the founding of the NHS to ignore doctors’ calls to meet and negotiate, and thousands of junior doctors in England will be balloted from Monday for strike action. The offer from the Business Secretary to sit down with unions to discuss the evidence it will submit to the pay review bodies ignores the fact that these review bodies are simply not fit for purpose.
"Junior doctors have seen their pay eroded by over 26% in the past 15 years. Yes the BMA will sit down and negotiate – something we have been calling for months – but the talks have to be meaningful and about how doctors will be paid a fair wage for the work they do.
"When doctors and other health workers strike, we do so for improvements to our lives, for retention of staff and ultimately for the care of our patients. For this Government to believe that anti-strike legislation, rather than investment in the NHS and in a sustainable plan for increasing the workforce, will make healthcare better, is not only ridiculous, but dangerous."
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.