More junior doctor strikes to come

The British Medical Association (BMA) has announced a new wave of strikes by junior doctors over new NHS contracts.

The three new 48 hour strikes are due to take place in March and April over the ongoing row about junior doctors’ contracts. The organisation has also announced that it will launch a judicial review over the government’s proposed changes to contracts, accusing the government of failing to provide evidence that it had undertaken an Equality Impact Assessment prior to its decision to impose the contract.

Industrial action is due to start on 9 March, with the second strike planned for the 6 April and the third taking place on 26 April. During the stoppages, junior doctors will cease all duties except emergency care.

The strikes are double the length of previous industrial action by junior doctors. Approximately 3000 operations were cancelled as a result of each of the last wave of strikes. It is estimated that around 20,000 operations and thousands of outpatient appointments could be cancelled during the next wave of stoppages.

Dr Johann Malawana, BMA junior doctor committee chairman, 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. 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.”

The new contract, which Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is to now impose on junior doctors, would mean an average 13.5% rise in basic pay, however the number of hours attracting unsocial hours payments would fall.

A spokesperson for NHS Employers called the new planned strike action “disappointing”.