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Junior doctors announce fresh five-day strike in row over pay

Junior doctors announce fresh five-day strike in row over pay

Junior doctors in England have announced a fresh strike for five days as part of an ongoing row over pay.

The strikes will take place between 7am on February 24 to 11.59pm on February 28 and will affect most routine NHS services.

It comes after junior doctors last month staged a six-day walkout, the longest strike in NHS history, after talks with Health Secretary Victoria Atkins broke down.

The BMA union said in a statement: “The Health Secretary was quite clear in media interviews during our last action that she would meet us 'in 20 minutes' when no strikes were planned. She also made clear that she had a further offer to make.

"It turned out to be more than 20 days before we were offered a meeting with a minister. When we did it wasn't with the Health Secretary, and there was no offer on the table.

"Time has been lost that could have been used to negotiate with us, or at least with the Treasury and the Prime Minister for the mandate to make a credible offer.

"From the very start of the industrial action, we have been clear that there is no need for strike action as long as substantial progress is made, and we remain willing to carry on talking and to cancel the forthcoming strikes if significant progress is made and a credible offer is put forward.”

Health Secretary Victoria Atkins (PA Wire)
Health Secretary Victoria Atkins (PA Wire)

However, Ms Atkins said she wanted to find a “reasonable solution” to end strikes, and that the latest action suggested the union was not “ready to be reasonable”.

“We already provided them with a pay increase of up to 10.3% and were prepared to go further. We urged them to put an offer to their members, but they refused. We are also open to further discussions on improving doctors’ and the wider workforce’s working lives,” she said.

“I want to focus on cutting waiting times for patients rather than industrial action. We have been making progress with waiting lists falling for three months in a row.

“Five days of action will put enormous pressure on the NHS and is not in the spirit of constructive dialogue. To make progress I ask the Junior Doctor’s Committee to cancel their action and come back to the table to find a way forward for patients and our NHS.”

The union says the Government’s pay offer is too low, with junior doctors having been given an average pay rise in the summer of 8.8 per cent and an offer of 3 per cent, which has been rejected.

The BMA said the new round of strikes would be the last on their current mandate with members but "we are already balloting for six months more".