The content of this website is intended for healthcare professionals only

Junior doctors say yes to industrial action

Full strike action could begin on December 8

Adrian O'Dowd

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Almost all junior doctors voting in a BMA ballot on industrial action to protest over a new working contract have voted for action which could include a full strike.

Results of the ballot of more than 37,155 junior doctors in England were issued today, showing that more than 99% taking part voted in favour of industrial action short of a strike, and 98% for full strike action.

The 76.2% response rate meant that 28,120 doctors voted for industrial action and 179 against, while 27,741 voted to take part in a strike and 564 were opposed.

The BMA said this showed the strength of feeling amongst the profession, but the trade union announced that it had approached Acas for conciliatory talks with health secretary Jeremy Hunt.

The union said that although it regretted the inevitable disruption that this would cause, junior doctors had been left with no alternative due to the government’s “continued threat to impose a contract” that was unsafe for patients and unfair for doctors.

If it goes ahead, the action will mean emergency care only will be provided by junior doctors between 8am on 1 December and 8am on 2 December. Then there will be a full withdrawal of labour between 8am and 5pm on 8 December and the same time period on 16 December.

The BMA stressed that if industrial action happened, other doctors and NHS staff would continue to provide patient care and the dates of proposed action had been released well in advance to allow employers to put in place plans to minimise disruption to staff and patients.

The union said it was still keen to avert the need for industrial action so had approached Acas to offer conciliatory talks with the health secretary and NHS Employers to try and clarify what it called “conflicting information” coming from government over the past weeks.

Dr Mark Porter, BMA council chair, 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. 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.”

Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, said: “Today's announcement is disappointing and will result in thousands of NHS patients, their families and carers being concerned that their planned care and treatment will be disrupted during December.

“NHS organisations are now working hard to keep disruption to a minimum but it is inevitable that appointments will be postponed, surgery rearranged and clinics closed.”

A spokesperson for the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, said: “We are urging both sides in the current dispute around junior doctors’ contracts to step back from the brink and re-enter negotiations in good faith so that an agreement can be reached. If necessary, this should be through third party conciliation and arbitration.”

An NHS England spokesperson said: “In the light of the ballot result, Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, national medical director of NHS England, has today written to the BMA seeking formal assurances that no action will be taken that will endanger patient safety and urgent and emergency care.”

Registered in England and Wales. Reg No. 2530185. c/o Wilmington plc, 5th Floor, 10 Whitechapel High Street, London E1 8QS. Reg No. 30158470