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Feature Medicine and the Media

How the papers covered the strike

BMJ 2016; 353 doi: (Published 05 May 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;353:i2506
  1. Thomas Macaulay, MA student in newspaper journalism
  1. City University, London, UK
  1. thommacaulay{at}

Coverage of the junior doctors’ industrial action was as divided and intransigent as the two sides in dispute, writes Thomas Macaulay

“Chaos caused by first all-out strike in NHS history,” screamed the Daily Mail last Tuesday, as the strike began.1 The cancellation of 12 711 operations and postponement of 112 856 outpatient appointments will have knock-on effects,2 but “most hospitals coped well and did not experience problems” on the day, said the Guardian, with emergency units quieter than normal.3

On the strike’s second day, the Sun warned of “heightened risk for patients,” echoing Jeremy Hunt. But their fears were unfounded, with ITV News reporting low waiting times and no urgent calls for doctors to return from the picket lines.”4

The first day dominated the national newspapers, given top billing on the front pages of …

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