Junior doctors go on strike

Tens of thousands of junior doctors are today taking industrial action over their contract dispute with the Government.

Trainees in England are providing emergency care-only cover — similar to a Christmas Day service — in the first of three planned periods of industrial action.

Doctors are taking the action over the Government’s failure to address junior doctors leaders’ concerns about contractual safeguards on safe working, and proper recognition for those working unsocial hours.

Conciliation talks paused last week with both sides saying, while discussions had been ‘constructive’, they were not enough to call off today’s planned action by the BMA.

BMA junior doctors committee chair Johann Malawana said: ‘Junior doctors feel they have been left with no option but to take this action.

"We have been clear throughout this process that we want to negotiate a contract that is safe and fair, and delivers for junior doctors, patients and the NHS as whole.

"This remains our goal and our door is open to talks, but the Government must address our concerns around safe working patterns and ensure the contract recognises the long, intense and unsocial hours which junior doctors do."

Talks facilitated via ACAS between the BMA, NHS Employers and the Department of Health will resume on Thursday. If these do not succeed, the association is planning two further days of action as follows:

8am, Tuesday 26 January to 8am Thursday 28 January — emergency care only
8am to 5pm, Wednesday 10 February — full withdrawal of labour

In December, three days of industrial action were suspended at the 11th hour following conciliatory talks between the BMA, NHS Employers and the Department of Health.

Talks have continued since then and the timeframe for the BMA to begin any industrial action was extended to 5pm on 13 January to allow negotiations to take place.

In November, 98 per cent of junior doctors balloted by the BMA voted for industrial action in response to the Government’s attempt to introduce an unsafe and unfair contract.

For updates on the industrial action, follow the BMA on Twitter @theBMA