Distress and alienation behind junior doctor strikes a 'serious concern', says GMC

The level of distress and alienation among junior doctors taking strike action is a 'matter of serious concern', the GMC chairman has warned.

BMA leaders announced on Wednesday a decision to escalate the third of three 48-hour strikes announced after the collapse of junior doctor contract talks.

The first strike, held earlier this month, involved a walk-out of all non-emergency junior doctors. A strike planned for 6 to 8 April will also exclude emergency staff, but the third 48-hour strike  on 26 and 27 April will now be an all-out strike, understood to be the first time in NHS history that industrial action by doctors has included emergency staff.

GMC chairman Professor Terence Stephenson said: 'Senior members of the profession are very concerned about this latest action which the BMA feel they have to take and I am sure every doctor will reflect on our guidance.

Junior doctor strikes

‘While we have no role in setting pay, terms and conditions for doctors, we are responsible for overseeing their education and training. The levels of distress and alienation that we see among them is a matter of serious concern to the GMC.

‘This dispute in England must be resolved – and resolved soon – so that we can work together with doctors in training, employers and the profession across the UK to tackle the urgent and underlying issues that are beyond the contract negotiations.

‘The decision to go ahead with the unprecedented withdrawal of emergency cover is a considerable escalation of the current industrial action and presents a significant challenge in making sure patients do not come to harm.

‘The decision to take full industrial action will weigh heavily on the minds of doctors and it is important that we remind those who are taking action, those who are providing cover during the action and those with leadership roles of their respective professional responsibilities.’

BMA junior doctors committee chairman Dr Johann Malawana has said the government's refusal to drop plans to impose a new contract left the union with no choice but to proceed with strike action.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has said junior doctors will come to realise that the government was 'right' to impose the contract, and called strike action 'irresponsible'.

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