Junior doctors in England announce four days of strikes in April

The junior doctors will stage a 96-hour walkout, ITV News' Amy Lewis reports

Junior doctors in England will strike for four days in April, the British Medical Association (BMA) has said.

Members of the BMA will down tools from April 11 to April 15, in a 96-hour walkout over pay and conditions.

The BMA said Health Secretary Steve Barclay had failed to make any “credible offer”, accusing the government of not being serious about resolving the dispute.

Dr Vivek Trivedi and Dr Robert Laurenson, co-chairs of the BMA junior doctor committee, said: “It is with disappointment and great frustration that we must announce this new industrial action.

“The government has dragged its feet at every opportunity. It has not presented any credible offer and is refusing to accept that there is any case for pay restoration, describing our central ask as ‘unrealistic’ and ‘unreasonable’.

Co-chairs of the BMA’s junior doctors’ committee Vivek Trivedi and Rob Laurenson have criticised the Government Credit: left

“Even yesterday they continued to add new unacceptable pre-conditions to talks instead of getting on and trying to find a resolution.

“We therefore have no confidence that without further action these negotiations can be successful.

“This situation is entirely of the government’s own making.

“We want to spend our time looking after patients, not on strike, but with an NHS buckling under a workforce crisis, and four in 10 junior doctors looking to leave, we can’t stand by while our pay is further eroded by inflation and an intransigent government.

“We are not going to stop until we are paid what we are worth, and if ministers don’t accept that when we tell them in person, we will have to tell them from the picket line.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Further strikes will risk patient safety and cause further disruption.

“The Health and Social Care Secretary met the BMA’s junior doctors committee yesterday in the hope of beginning constructive talks to resolve the current dispute.

“The BMA placed a pre-condition on these talks of a 35% pay rise. That is unreasonable.

“Our door remains open to constructive conversations, as we have had with other health unions, to find a realistic way forward which balances rewarding junior doctors for their hard work while being fair to the taxpayer.”

It follows an initial round of strikes earlier in March where tens of thousands of junior doctors took to picket lines.

More than 175,000 patient appointments and procedures were postponed or cancelled in England when junior doctors went on strike earlier this month, according to NHS figures.

It marked the nation's longest ever period of strikes by junior doctors.

Alongside the 175,000 appointments and procedures put off because of this week's strikes, more than 100,000 had already been postponed this winter after nurses took strike action.

Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive at NHS Providers, said: “The prospect of a 96-hour strike by junior doctors will ring alarm bells for trust leaders up and down the country.

“It would immediately follow a four-day bank holiday weekend, meaning demand will have piled up before the strike even begins on April 11. There will also be no exemptions.

“This threatens the biggest disruption from NHS walkouts so far. There should be no doubt about the scale of the impact on patients, staff and the NHS. No-one wants this.

“It’s hugely disappointing that talks between the government and the doctors’ unions have broken down.

“Trust leaders understand why junior doctors feel they’ve been pushed to this point, but it’s incumbent on all involved to urgently re-enter talks in good faith.”

In a message to members on the BMA website, the union said: “We are holding a 96-hour walk out of all junior doctors in England in order to achieve a full pay restoration. This is our second round of action.

“This means you should not attend any shifts starting after 6.59am on 11 April. You can then attend any shifts starting from 7am on the 15 April.”

In a tweet announcing the fresh strike, the body said: “The government is still refusing to make a credible offer – or any offer at all – to resolve our dispute.”

It follows other NHS strikes hitting pause after a renewed pay deal from the government.

Most unions representing other NHS staff and ambulance workers last week recommended the acceptance of a one-off payment worth 6% of their salary for this financial year.

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