For the first time in the history of the National Health Service, junior doctors will leave all departments, including emergency care, on strike.
The British Medical Association, a trade union that represents and supports doctors and medical students from all across the United Kingdom, has stepped up its level of industrial action against the government’s new contract for junior doctors.
In addition to strikes from 8am on the 6th of April until 8am of the 8th, the British Medical Association states that there will be a “full withdrawal of labour” from 8am – 5pm on the 26th and 27th of the month.
This means that, for the first time in the life of the National Health Service, a large part of the health service’s staff will be wholly absent from their posts. The move is expected to put a great strain on all services.
The British Medical Association has written a statement on its website:
As a result of the continued refusal by the government to step back from its decision to impose a new contract on junior doctors and resolve the dispute by re-entering talks, industrial action scheduled for 26 April will change from 48-hour emergency care only to a full withdrawal of labour by junior doctors between the hours stated above. Other doctors and staff will continue to provide care during this time.
The “full withdrawal of labour” is a move supported by 98% of junior doctors consulted by the Association, but the government’s Department of Health has criticised the industrial action. In particular, the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, has described the news to the BBC as “very disappointing“.
Both sides are accusing the other of their unwillingness to negotiate the contract. The Association states on its website that its industrial action “follows the continued refusal by the government to step back from its decision to impose a new contract on junior doctors from August this year and resolve the dispute by re-entering talks” whereas the Health Secretary has said that “if the BMA had agreed to negotiate about Saturday premium rates as they said they would, it wouldn’t have been necessary to get to this stage.”