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Junior doctors announce new strike dates in NHS pay row

Junior doctors will go on strike again later this month as the pay row with the government shows no signs of abating.

The British Medical Association announced on Firday that junior doctors will start a four-day walkout on 24 February.

The group said the government had refused to allow an extension to its mandate to strike. The mandate will expire at the end of February and the BMA is currently holding a vote for a new six-month mandate from spring.

BMA junior doctors committee co-chairs Dr Robert Laurenson and Dr Vivek Trivedi said: “We have made every effort to work with the government in finding a fair solution to this dispute whilst trying to avoid strike action. Even yesterday we were willing to delay further strike action in exchange for a short extension of our current strike mandate.

“Had the Health Secretary agreed to this, an act of good faith on both sides, talks could have gone ahead without more strikes. Sadly, the government declined.”

The statement added: “The glacial speed of progress with the government is frustrating and incomprehensible.”

Junior doctors’ last round of strikes were held from 3 January to 9 January during what is traditionally the NHS’ most busy period and marked the longest such walkout in NHS history.

In January consultants narrowly rejected a pay offer from the government, by 51.1 per cent, paving the way for further strike action from this group of senior also.

Most recent figures from the NHS estimate the costs of worker strikes, including nurses and ambulance workers last year, have now totalled £3 billion.

Health and social care secretary Victoria Atkins said: “I want to find a reasonable solution that ends strike action. This action called by the BMA Junior Doctor Committee does not signal that they are ready to be reasonable.

“We already provided them with a pay increase of up to 10.3 per cent 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 to make progress the junior doctors should cancel the upcoming action and “find a way back to the table.”