Intended for healthcare professionals

Feature Doctors’ Strike 2016

How Jeremy Hunt derailed clinician led progress towards a seven day NHS

BMJ 2016; 352 doi: (Published 13 January 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;352:i187
  1. Fiona Godlee, editor in chief
  1. 1The BMJ
  1. fgodlee{at}

For five years NHS doctors have been making progress behind the scenes on seven day working. So why, asks Fiona Godlee, has Hunt portrayed clinicians as the main barrier to change and propelled junior doctors to strike for the first time in 40 years?

It may be hard to believe from the vantage point of this week’s industrial action, but from 2011 to 2015 plans for a seven day NHS were progressing well (table).

Unusually, for a policy change of this sort, there was an evidence base. Several studies in the United Kingdom and elsewhere, though observational and so unable to do more than show associations, sent a consistent message: an association …

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