Junior doctors vote overwhelmingly for strike action

The strikes will take place over three days in December (Picture: PA Images)

The strikes will take place over three days in December (Picture: PA Images) - Credit: PA

London medics will join junior doctors nationwide in a ‘full walkout’ December 8 and 16 and offer only emergency care on December 1 after 98 per cent voted in favour of industrial action, the BMA said today.

Doctors represented by the BMA - NHS doctors’ union the British Medical Association - are furious at Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s proposed changes to their contracts.

Ballot results released to members show just 546 of the 28,316 junior doctors who returned ballot papers voted against the strike action.

The BMA said today the ballot result represents “the strength of feeling in the profession” over the contract the government plans to impose from August 2016, and said at this point ACAS, the independent adjudication service, should be called in to resolve the dispute.

A BMA statement released Thursday morning said it has “been left with no alternative”.

Commenting, BMA council chair Dr Mark Porter, said: “We regret the inevitable disruption that this will cause but it is the government’s adamant insistence on imposing a contract that is unsafe for patients in the future, and unfair for doctors now and in the future, that has brought us to this point.

“Patients are doctors’ first priority, which is why, even with such a resounding mandate, we are keen to avert the need for industrial action, which is why we have approached Acas to offer conciliatory talks with the health secretary and NHS Employers to clarify the conflicting information coming from government over the past weeks.

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“The health secretary is right when he says this action is ‘wholly avoidable’.

“Our message to him is that junior doctors have today made their views perfectly clear but that it is still possible to get back around the negotiating table to deliver a contract that is safe for patients, contains the necessary contractual safeguards to prevent junior doctors being overworked and properly recognises evening and weekend work.”

One London junior doctor, 25, said: “When I started working and became a doctor I would never in a million years have thought I would ever need to strike or even want to. I don’t want to. But this is how far it has come.

“I’m striking for my colleagues up and down the country – the guys at my level who have spent weeks working 8am to 9.30pm shifts but actually leaving at 11.30pm in the middle of 12 days working in a row.

“I’m striking for the guys who have been around for years, have families – child costs, mortgages, school bills - who would not be able to continue living their life with a 26 per cent pay cut.

“I’m striking because this government has been ridiculously incompetent, short sighted, downright disrespectful, and most importantly dishonest with the medical profession and the general public.

“But most importantly, I’m striking for my patients - you people who sadly don’t even understand the full implications of what this government are doing with this contract and the NHS which I care about so much.

“I seriously hope no patient is harmed or their care is compromised in any way by the strike. But we are doing this to avoid harm to the public over the years to come.

“I’m sad that I’m striking. But I’m not sorry. This has to stop.”

The overwhelmingly supportive vote gives doctors’ approval to a rolling programme of industrial action, but initially junior doctors would provide only emergency care for 24 hours beginning Tuesday December 1 then hold two full walkouts on Tuesday December 8 and Wednesday December 16.

The Department of Health has been contacted for comment.

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