Junior doctors in England have voted overwhelmingly in favour of taking industrial action, including a full walk-out.
More than 76 per cent of trainees took part in the ballot.
99.4 per cent voted ‘yes’ to the first question: 'Are you prepared to take industrial action short of a strike?'
98 per cent voted 'yes' to the second question: 'Are you prepared to take part in industrial action including strike action?'
This gives the BMA a resounding mandate for industrial action, including a full walkout. Dates of the proposed action were announced on 12 November.
The association has also approached ACAS to offer conciliatory talks with health secretary Jeremy Hunt and NHS Employers.
BMA council chair Mark Porter said: 'We regret the inevitable disruption that this will cause but it is the Government’s adamant insistence on imposing a contract that is unsafe for patients in the future, and unfair for doctors now and in the future, that has brought us to this point.
'Patients are doctors’ first priority, which is why, even with such a resounding mandate, we are keen to avert the need for industrial action, which is why we have approached ACAS to offer conciliatory talks with the health secretary and NHS Employers to clarify the conflicting information coming from government over the past weeks.'
The dates and types of action include:
- Emergency care only — over 24 hours from 8am on Tuesday 1 December to 8am on Wednesday 2 December. This would see juniors provide the same level of service that happens in their given specialty, hospital or GP practice on Christmas Day
- Full walk-out — from 8am to 5pm, Tuesday 8 December
- Full walk-out — from 8am to 5pm, Wednesday 16 December.
Guidance at hand
Guidance for non-junior doctors in England has already been published to support GPs, hospital doctors and clinical academics who may be affected by industrial action. Further guidance will be produced for local negotiating committees.
The BMA has repeatedly stated what needs to change in the proposed contract but the Government has not supplied the assurances it has asked for.
Mr Hunt this week wrote to BMA junior doctors committee chair Johann Malawana to say that industrial action is ‘entirely avoidable’ and urges the BMA to return to negotiations.
In the letter, Mr Hunt says the Government reserves the right to make changes to contracts if there is ‘no progress on one of the issues preventing a truly seven-day NHS’.
Dr Porter said that the health secretary was right that the action was avoidable and added: 'Our message to him is that junior doctors have today made their views perfectly clear but that it is still possible to get back around the negotiating table to deliver a contract that is safe for patients, contains the necessary contractual safeguards to prevent junior doctors being overworked and properly recognises evening and weekend work.'
The industrial action only includes junior doctors in England. The Scotland and Wales Governments have said they will not impose a contract on their trainees, while, the Northern Ireland Government says it has ‘no desire’ to impose such a deal and is working with BMA representatives.
Read guidance for doctors taking action, and their colleagues who are not