Junior doctors prepare to escalate industrial action over imposed contract

Junior doctors are set to escalate their campaign of industrial action against the government's plan to impose a new contract.

The BMA’s junior doctors committee voted on Friday to move towards escalation of planned industrial action.

The union has already announced two 48-hour walkouts by non-emergency juniors for next month following a 48-hour action earlier this month and 24-hour strikes in January and February.

The union has previously announced full walkouts including doctors covering emergency services, but cancelled them.

Junior doctor strikes

An email to juniors published online by junior doctors committee chairman Dr Johann Malawana said details of the escalation would be announced shortly.

‘I’m immensely proud of how we have stood together and stood up to the imposition of a contract that doctors have no confidence in and which they believe is unfair and would impact the delivery of care in the long term. The industrial action has been backed by inspirational and at times humbling public support as well as backing from across the whole profession,' said Dr Malawana.

‘Today we heard strong voices at the junior doctors committee highlighting the need to step up our action in the face of such government obduracy. We have shown solidarity, stated our case clearly and passionately to the public, and done everything possible to avert what could be the worst of all worlds for junior doctors. This is why the junior doctors committee voted today to move towards an escalation of its planned action.’

The union leader added that no doctor wanted to take strike action but the government’s refusal to get back around the negotiating table ‘forces us down this road’.

Contract negotiation

During the first 48-hour action earlier this month GPC trainee subcommittee and junior doctors committee member Dr Bea Bakshi told GPonline that juniors would escalate their action until the government takes notice.

Dr Bakshi said ‘all options’ were on the table. ‘We have to consider all options to get the government to come back to the table for a negotiated settlement.’

Speaking from a picket line outside the Royal Marsden Hospital in west London Dr Bakshi added: ‘The reason why we haven't escalated to a full walkout is we genuinely don't want to strike. But after two 24-hour strikes and now three 48-hour strikes, if the government is still not listening we have to consider all options that will force the government to listen.

‘We need to exert as much pressure as possible on the government to get them to come back and negotiate with us.’

Photo: iStock

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