Intended for healthcare professionals


Junior doctors’ strike—what do medical students need to know?

BMJ 2023; 380 doi: (Published 10 March 2023) Cite this as: BMJ 2023;380:p571
  1. Louise Griffin, final year medical student1,
  2. Marina Politis, fourth year medical student2
  1. 1University of Birmingham
  2. 2University of Glasgow
  1. @louisegriffn
  2. @marinadpol

Louise Griffin and Marina Politis break down what the upcoming junior doctors’ strike means for medical students and how they can support industrial action

On 24 February 2023, the BMA Junior Doctors Committee announced that 72 hours of strike action will begin on Monday 13 March and conclude on the morning of Thursday 16 March. This will mean full stoppage of work, including nights, on-call shifts, and non-resident work, and follows 98% (36 218) of votes in the recent strike ballot that endorsed industrial action over pay. This ballot involved junior doctor BMA members in England, and a record 77% (36 955) of eligible doctors voted.1

As junior doctors call for “pay restoration”—the reversal of their real terms cut in pay since 2008-09—we, as medical students, have an opportunity to stand in solidarity with our colleagues. Though we cannot formally take part in industrial action, we have the power to advocate for our future and support strike action in several ways.

How did we get here?

The BMA calculates that, since 2008, junior doctors have experienced a real terms pay cut of 26.1%.2 Junior doctors were not included in a 3% pay rise for NHS staff announced by the government in July 2021, as their pay is part of a separate multi-year agreement.3 Following years of service pressures and chronic understaffing, this pay rise exclusion has provoked anger among junior doctors and medical students alike.

Importantly, the term “junior doctor” is often misinterpreted as including only doctors in their first years following qualification. In fact, it refers to more than 71 000 doctors,4 who have up to eight years’ experience.5 Junior doctors, of varying experiences and qualifications, will be participating in the industrial action.

The upcoming action follows previous junior doctor strikes in 2016.6 The impact on healthcare services was significant, with …

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