Intended for healthcare professionals

Observations Junior doctors’ strike

Snatching defeat from the jaws of Pyrrhic victory

BMJ 2016; 353 doi: (Published 06 June 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;353:i3053
  1. Andy Cowper, editor
  1. Health Policy Insight
  1. andycowper{at}

The classicists among BMJ readers will already know that a Pyrrhic victory costs the winner so highly that it is all but a defeat. This is a lesson that both the BMA junior doctors’ committee (JDC) leadership and the health secretary for England, Jeremy Hunt, have learnt the hard way.

After all the rhetoric—#timetotalkJeremy (JDC) and (Hunt’s) “the matter is closed”1—further negotiation was, in the end, possible.2

Indeed, after a few days’ talks, they did the deal3 that the JDC now recommends—and it’s not massively different4 from the previous “to be imposed” deal.5

Most importantly for the government and NHS leaders fighting to keep finances upright, the agreement they reached remained “cost neutral.”

Collateral damage

The collateral damage to both …

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