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Junior doctors in England announce five day walkout ahead of general election

BMJ 2024; 385 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.q1183 (Published 29 May 2024) Cite this as: BMJ 2024;385:q1183
  1. Zosia Kmietowicz
  1. The BMJ

Junior doctors in England have announced new strike dates ahead of the general election on 4 July after three months of talks with the government have failed to result in a credible roadmap to restore pay lost over the past 15 years.

The BMA’s junior doctors committee announced a full five day walkout by junior doctors beginning at 7 am on 27 June 2024 and ending at 7 am on 2 July. The move follows an announcement on 15 May that the committee and the UK government had agreed to consider mediation, seen by many as a step that could ultimately end strike action by doctors in training in England.1

Commenting on the new strike action, BMA junior doctors committee co-chairs Robert Laurenson and Vivek Trivedi said, “We made clear to the government that we would strike unless discussions ended in a credible pay offer. For more than 18 months we have been asking Rishi Sunak to put forward proposals to restore the pay junior doctors have lost over the past 15 years—equal to more than a quarter in real terms.

“When we entered mediation with government this month, we did so under the impression that we had a functioning government that would soon be making an offer. Clearly no offer is now forthcoming. Junior doctors are fed up and out of patience.

“Even at this late stage, Mr Sunak has the opportunity to show that he cares about the NHS and its workers. It is finally time for him to make a concrete commitment to restore doctors’ pay. If during this campaign he makes such a public commitment that is acceptable to the BMA’s junior doctors committee, then no strikes need go ahead.”

Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive at NHS Providers, described the latest announcement on strikes as “a worrying escalation” that would hit patients hard. She added, “As always, trust leaders and their teams will do everything they can to protect patient safety. They will spend countless hours preparing for the walkout, which includes cancelling and rescheduling appointments. This is time they would prefer to spend improving patient care and tackling sky high waiting lists.

“Nearly 1.5 million appointments have been delayed since industrial action began, with strikes having now cost the NHS an estimated £3bn. We cannot go on like this. Politicians and unions must urgently find a way to resolve all disputes for the sake of patients, staff, and the NHS.”

Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation said that the news of another strike would make NHS leaders anxious as it is when they are starting to prepare for the winter months. “Any form of disruption is the last thing our members want when they are trying to tackle long waiting lists and improve performance across urgent and emergency care, mental health and community services,” he said.

“This war of attrition has been going on for far too long; we hope that any new government that comes in July will reach a solution with the BMA and end this dispute, which has been having such an impact on patients and the NHS.”

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