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BMA sets further strike dates, as royal colleges condemn action

BMJ 2016; 354 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i4782 (Published 02 September 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;354:i4782
  1. Abi Rimmer
  1. BMJ Careers
  1. arimmer{at}bmj.com

Junior doctors in England will stage four rounds of industrial action from September until December, the BMA has announced.

The news came as the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges said that the planned action was not proportionate to junior doctors’ concerns and would cause “real problems” for patients.

The BMA said that junior doctors would stage a series of actions comprising full withdrawal of labour between the hours of 8 am and 5 pm for five consecutive weekdays: during 12-16 September; 5-7 October and 10-11 October; 14-18 November, and 5-9 December. The BMA originally announced just one week of strikes, after a special meeting of the BMA Council approved the action.1

The BMA said that it was calling for the government to reverse plans to impose a new contract on junior doctors in England from October and “restart meaningful talks.”2

In a statement the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges said that it was disappointed at the prospect of further sustained industrial action by junior doctors. It said, “We are acutely aware that the NHS is under extreme pressure at the moment. Patient safety and quality of care must be the priority.

“We know there are genuine concerns about the contract and working arrangements, but we do not consider the proposed strikes are proportionate. Five days of strike action, particularly at such short notice, will cause real problems for patients, the service, and the profession.”

The Daily Mail has reported details of leaked internal BMA documents that the newspaper says it has seen. It said that the documents showed that 36% of junior doctors indicated to the BMA that they would be prepared to support an indefinite total strike and that 32% said that they would support a full walkout that was time limited.3

The Daily Mail also reported that proposals for further action were voted on by 27 of the BMA Council’s 40 members who it said were eligible to vote. It said that 16 voted in favour of and 11 against junior doctors taking further industrial action.

In an interview with Nick Robinson on BBC Radio 4 on Thursday 1 September, Mark Porter, chair of the BMA Council, chose not to comment on the breakdown of the council members’ vote on approving the industrial action.4

A BMA spokeswoman said that there was strong support from the BMA Council for junior doctors taking further industrial action. She also said that there was a “strong call” for further industrial action in the results of a BMA survey that asked members a wide range of questions on their remaining concerns and what action, if any, they thought was a necessary next step.

The spokeswoman said, “We want to resolve this dispute through talks, but genuine efforts to engage with the government over the past few months have fallen on deaf ears, leaving junior doctors with no choice but to take further action. This is in the government’s hands. Stop the imposition, then junior doctors will call off industrial action.”

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