Junior doctors to strike on week before general election

Junior doctors are to stage a strike during the General Election campaign (PA Wire)
Junior doctors are to stage a strike during the General Election campaign (PA Wire)

Junior doctors in England will go on strike the week before the general election after mediated talks with the Government collapsed, the British Medical Association has announced.

Medics will walk out from 7am June 27 until 7am on July 2, the union said.

Talks had recently reopened with a view to ending the long-running dispute over pay between medics in training and the Government.

After the July 4 election was called last week, the British Medical Association (BMA) gave the Government “a final opportunity to make an offer and avoid strikes” but “this opportunity has not been taken up”.

The co-chairmen of the BMA junior doctors committee, Dr Robert Laurenson and Dr Vivek Trivedi, said in a statement: “We made clear to the Government that we would strike unless discussions ended in a credible pay offer.

“When we entered mediation with Government this month we did so under the impression that we had a functioning government that would soon be making an offer. Clearly no offer is now forthcoming. Junior doctors are fed up and out of patience.

“Even at this late stage Mr Sunak has the opportunity to show that he cares about the NHS and its workers. It is finally time for him to make a concrete commitment to restore doctors’ pay. If during this campaign he makes such a public commitment that is acceptable to the BMA’s junior doctors committee, then no strikes need go ahead."

Industrial action by junior doctors in the BMA has severely disrupted NHS services since January 2023. The last strike, in February, led to 91,048 appointments, operations and procedures being postponed.

Earlier on Wednesday, shadow health secretary Wes Streeting said that he would “not be able to afford” the 35 per cent pay claim being made by the BMA.

He told GMB: “We’re going to have to work together and negotiate on pay and recognise, as was the case with the last Labour government who inherited a similar mess. Getting to fair pay is a journey not an event, and I am willing to negotiate on pay and those wider conditions that junior doctors are working.”

He added: “I’m willing to sit down and negotiate on those wider conditions so that junior doctors are genuinely valued and and look forward to a career in the NHS rather than thinking about whether they’re going to stick it out because things are so terrible.”

Health Secretary Victoria Atkins said: “Today should be the day the Labour Party finally condemn Junior Doctor strikes.

“Announcing this during an election and on Labour’s health day shows this was only ever political and not about patients or staff.”

“In contrast, we have reached a deal with consultants and put an offer to SAS doctors.

“I’ll always deal constructively if the other side does too. Junior Doctors should take note and start acting like they want a better deal for their members.

“This is a highly cynical tactic, since the BMA junior doctors have already received a pay increase of up to 10.3 per cent.

“This Conservative government has taken the tough decisions to keep public spending down to bear down on inflation, which is now back to normal.

“Labour would be in the hands of their union paymasters - meaning more spending and higher taxes.”