Junior doctors in England will continue their strike for nine days in December and January because they couldn’t agree with the government on a better pay offer.
Junior doctors in the UK will go on strike from December 20 to 23, as well as from January 3 to 9.
The health sector will be negatively affected by the move. Starting in December 2022, there has been a series of strikes that have added to the already existing pressures on the NHS. As a result, approximately 1.2 million operations and appointments have been canceled.
The BMA said Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s government had failed to make a “credible offer” to end the dispute after five weeks of negotiations.
Sunak in July announced a minimum 6 percent wage increase for 2023-24, plus a £1,250 consolidated payment, for junior doctors in a push to end the public sector walkouts that have been fuelled by the cost of living crisis.
Robert Laurenson and Vivek Trivedi, co-chairs of the BMA junior doctors’ committee, said junior doctors had been offered an additional 3 percent annual salary rise, “unevenly spread across doctors’ grades, which would still amount to pay cuts for many doctors this year”.
Health secretary Victoria Atkins said that if the fresh round of strikes were called off, the government would “immediately look to come back to the table to continue negotiations”.
“It is disappointing that despite significant progress the BMA junior doctors committee have walked away from negotiations and declared new strikes, which will result in more disruption for patients and extra pressure on NHS services and staff,” Atkins added.
In a joint statement, Laurenson and Trivedi said: “We will be ready and willing any time the government wants to talk. If a credible offer can be presented the day before, or even during any action, these strikes can be cancelled.”
Last month, the BMA agreed to support a pay offer by the government to senior consultants, which included a 4.95 per cent “investment in pay” for the 2023-24 financial year, adding to the 6 per cent already offered.
Senior consultants have said they will not go on strike while considering the deal, with the result of a union vote on the offer expected in January.
While nurses and other staff have already agreed pay deals, health leaders warned that NHS England could not afford more industrial action as it braced for one of its most testing periods.
Sir Julian Hartley, chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents health organisations across England, said: “This is the outcome that trust leaders were dreading. This will be the longest strike in NHS history during the busiest and toughest time of the year for the NHS.”