Junior doctors 'likely' to go on strike next month, union spokesperson says
Junior doctors in England are "likely" to go on strike next month in a dispute over pay and conditions, a spokesperson has said.
Around 45,000 members have been balloted and the results expected around 20 February, deputy co-chair of the British Medical Association's Junior Doctors Committee Dr Mike Greenhalgh told Sky News.
If they reach the 50% 'yes' threshold then junior doctors - any doctor below consultant level - will begin a 72-hour "full walkout" in March.
The British Medical Association (BMA) is the trade union and professional body for doctors and medical students in the UK.
"Any potential action would be looking at March, but of course we would be more than happy and would love to speak to the government before that to try and avoid any strike action," Dr Greenhalgh said.
"We have been driven to this as a last resort and would still like to avoid it if possible. However, unfortunately I do think it's highly likely."
He added: "We have seen from the strikes from our other colleagues in the healthcare profession that they have unfortunately been having impacts.
"This is in the gift of the government to avoid. Our door is open, we would meet them today, tomorrow, this week, and we could potentially avoid this.
"The problem is the government aren't willing to have a frank discussion about pay and our conditions."
Junior doctors are calling for better pay after they were excluded from an NHS pay rise this year because their contract is subject to a multi-year pay deal, agreed in 2019 and ending in March, that gives them a 2% rise for 2022/2023.
The BMA said junior doctors in England have seen a real-term pay cut over the past 15 years which amounts to a 26.1% decline in pay since 2008/9.
It would be the second time ever junior doctors have taken action.
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It comes as thousands of nurses and ambulance workers are due to go on strike on Monday in what many predict will be the biggest strike day the NHS has ever seen.
Nurses from the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) will walk out alongside GMB and Unite paramedics, call handlers and other staff at ambulance strikes.
Nurses will again walkout on Tuesday, ambulance workers again on Friday and physiotherapists are set to strike on Thursday.
A Sky News poll found support for trade unions is rising despite strike action bringing public services to a standstill.
A survey of more than 2,000 adults found 37% support unions, up from 35% in November.
A smaller proportion, 28%, said unions play a negative role in society, down from 34% in November.
YouGov data shows NHS workers elicit the strongest support from the public.
Some 43% of respondents said they strongly support strike action by nurses, while 22% said they somewhat support it. Only 31% said they strongly or somewhat oppose industrial action from nurses.