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Junior doctors set to go on strike over pay in England

Junior doctors in England are set to go on strike for 72 hours next month in a row over pay.

Members of the British Medical Association (BMA) overwhelmingly backed the walkout as the union hit out at Health Secretary Steve Barclay for failing to take part in meaningful negotiations on wages.

BMA junior doctors committee co-chairs Dr Robert Laurenson and Dr Vivek Trivedi said: “The Government has only itself to blame, standing by in silent indifference as our members are forced to take this difficult decision.”

More than 47,600 junior doctors in England were eligible to vote in the BMA’s ballot.

Almost 37,000 votes were cast and 98% of those were cast in favour of strike action, meaning this was the largest ever turnout for a ballot of doctors by the BMA and a record number of junior doctors voting for strike action.

Dr Laurenson and Dr Trivedi said: “This vote shows, without a shadow of a doubt, the strength of feeling among most of England’s junior doctors.

“We are frustrated, in despair and angry and we have voted in our thousands to say, ‘in the name of our profession, our patients, and our NHS, doctors won’t take it anymore’.”

They said that after a real-terms pay cut of more than 26% since 2008, junior doctors were offered an “insulting” 2% pay rise in the current year.

Cabinet reshuffle
Health Secretary Steve Barclay said the strike was deeply disappointing (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Health Secretary Mr Barclay said: “We hugely value the work of junior doctors and it is deeply disappointing some union members have voted for strike action.

“As part of a multi-year deal we agreed with the BMA, junior doctors’ pay has increased by a cumulative 8.2% since 2019/20. We also introduced a higher pay band for the most experienced staff and increased rates for night shifts.

“I’ve met with the BMA and other medical unions to discuss what is fair and affordable, as well as wider concerns around conditions and workload.

“I want to continue discussing how we can make the NHS a better place to work for all.”

The BMA’s action is the latest industrial dispute to hit the NHS as workers face a squeeze on living standards driven by soaring inflation.

Thousands of ambulance workers were staging a fresh strike on Monday in the long-running dispute over pay and staffing.

The GMB said more than 11,000 of its ambulance workers will walk out in England and Wales, including paramedics, emergency care assistants and call handlers, with ambulance workers in the Unite union in parts of the country also on strike.