Junior doctors plan three 48-hour strikes as BMA demands contract judicial review

The BMA has announced three 48-hour strike dates for junior doctors and has demanded a judicial review of the government's imposition of a new contract.

Three dates for 48-hour walkouts by non-emergency junior doctors will take place in March and April, the doctors' union has said.

The BMA said it would seek a judicial review of health secretary Jeremy Hunt's decision to impose a contract over claims the government failed to undertake an equality impact assesment of the decision.

The latest wave of junior doctor strikes are set for the following dates:

  • 48-hour emergency care only from 8am, Wednesday 9 March to 8am, Friday 11 March
  • 48-hour emergency care only from 8am, Wednesday 6 April to 8am, Friday 8 April
  • 48-hour emergency care only from 8am, Tuesday 26 April to 8am, Thursday 28 April

BMA junior doctors committee chairman Dr Johann Malawana said: 'In recent weeks I have heard from thousands of junior doctors across the country, and the resounding message is that they cannot and will not accept what the government is trying to do.

Junior doctor strikes

'It now appears that in trying to push through these changes the government failed to give proper consideration to the impact this contract could have on junior doctors. This is yet another example of the incompetence which the overnment has demonstrated throughout its handling of this dispute.

'Imposing this contract will seriously undermine the ability of the NHS to recruit and retain junior doctors in areas of medicine with the most unsocial hours, where there are already staffing shortages. This will have a significant impact on areas such as emergency medicine, maternity care and paediatrics, to name but a few.

'We have already seen NHS chief executives refusing to support an imposition, and patient representatives have said they are appalled by this move. Added to this, the government’s former adviser on patient safety, Don Berwick, has said it should apologise to junior doctors over the contract dispute. The government must listen to the chorus of concern coming from all quarters and reconsider this disastrous approach.

'The fact is, junior doctors already work around the clock, seven days a week and they do so under their existing contract. If the government wants more seven-day services then, quite simply, it needs more doctors, nurses and support staff, and the extra investment necessary to deliver them. Rather than address these issues head on, the government wants to introduce a contract that is unfair and in which junior doctors have no confidence.

'The government can avert this action by re-entering talks with the BMA and addressing the outstanding issues and concerns junior doctors have, rather than simply ignoring them. If it pushes ahead with plans to impose a contract that junior doctors have resoundingly rejected we will be left with no option but to take this action. The government must put patients before politics, get back around the table and find a negotiated solution to this dispute.'

A DH spokesperson said: 'Further strike action is completely unnecessary and will mean tens of thousands more patients face cancelled operations – over a contract that was 90% agreed with the BMA and which senior NHS leaders including Simon Stevens have endorsed as fair and safe. The new contract will mean an average 13.5% basic pay rise, and will bring down the maximum number of hours doctors can work. We urge junior doctors to look at the detail of the contract and the clear benefits it brings.'

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