Junior doctors will take escalated industrial action unless the Government cancels the imposition of its controversial new contract and returns to meaningful negotiations.
The BMA council and dispute committee today approved plans for a full walkout of junior doctors from 8am to 5pm for five days starting on 12 September, followed by further dates to be confirmed.
It comes after doctors voted to reject the Government’s proposed new terms and conditions in July and follows repeated attempts by the BMA during the past two months to work constructively with the Government to address the outstanding areas of concern.
Despite these efforts the Government is refusing to acknowledge junior doctors’ concerns and continues with its plan to impose the contract in October.
‘We have a simple ask of the Government: stop the imposition,’ BMA junior doctor committee chair Ellen McCourt said.
‘If it agrees to do this, junior doctors will call off industrial action.’
Safe and viable
Dr McCourt added that junior doctors required the Government to reset the objectives for a new contract to deliver an evidence-based, properly costed and funded contract to facilitate a safe and viable NHS.
Dr McCourt said: ‘This is not a situation junior doctors wanted to find themselves in. We want to resolve this dispute through talks, but in forcing through a contract that junior doctors have rejected and which they don’t believe is good for their patients or themselves, the Government has left them with no other choice.’
Key concerns raised by junior doctors include the impact that the contract will have on those working less-than full time, a majority of whom are women, and the impact it will have on junior doctors working the most weekends, typically in specialties where there is already a shortage of doctors.
Dr McCourt said: ‘Junior doctors still have serious concerns with the contract, particularly that it will fuel the workforce crisis, and that it fails to treat all doctors fairly.
‘Since July, the BMA has made repeated attempts to work with the Government to address the concerns that junior doctors have raised about the contract.
‘Genuine efforts to resolve the dispute through talks have been met with an unwillingness to engage and, at times, deafening silence from the health secretary, leaving junior doctors with no choice but to take further action. This is despite a pledge from Jeremy Hunt that his door is always open.’
After a long-running dispute doctors were given the chance to have their say on an agreed deal for England via a referendum – with 58 per cent voting to reject the terms and conditions.
Dr McCourt said: ‘With just weeks before the first group of doctors is moved on to the imposed contract, time is running out.
‘This contract will be in place for many years, it will have a direct impact on patient care and whether we can attract and keep enough doctors in the NHS. It is too important to be rushed to meet a political deadline.’
Mr Hunt has insisted that a new contract is necessary to deliver the Government’s as yet unexplained manifesto pledge to extend ‘seven-day’ hospital services – despite junior doctors already regularly working weekends.
The health secretary has been repeatedly questioned over his comments, including by other politicians and a wide range of health experts and academics, and just last week the BMA called for him to stop attacking doctors and misleading patients and finally provide his plan for so-called ‘seven-day services’ in the NHS.
The rhetoric comes at a time when concerns have been raised about staff shortages across the NHS and hospitals in Chorley, Grantham and Stafford have been forced to close emergency departments or limit access because they don’t have enough staff to deliver safe care.
Dr McCourt added: ‘The Government has consistently said this is about creating a seven-day NHS, when junior doctors already work weekends and it’s been shown that the Government has no answer to how it will staff and fund extra weekend care.’
Find out more about the industrial action
Find out more about seven-day services
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