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Consultants announce dates for longest strike yet

Published on: 24 Aug 2023

Hospital consultants in England will strike for three consecutive days in October as they prepare to undertake their longest period of industrial action so far.

The British Medical Association announced the walkouts will take place on 2, 3 and 4 October – marking the first consultants’ strike planned for longer than two consecutive days –  in the absence of any progress on talks with the government over pay. 

As with the previous strikes, consultants will provide “Christmas Day” cover, meaning minimal emergency services will remain open but elective care will not.

The latest walkout is planned to take place during the Conservative party conference, which is being held in Manchester this year from 1 until 4 October.

The announcement coincides with the start of the second round of consultants’ strikes, taking place today and tomorrow (24 and 25 August). A further round of industrial action is planned for consultants on 19 and 20 September, while junior doctors are being re-balloted on whether to continue strike action beyond August.

Vishal Sharma, chair of the BMA’s consultants committee, said: “By refusing to talk to us, and it’s now been 150 days since the health secretary [Steve Barclay] met with us, it just shows that the government is not serious about the NHS, its workforce or patients.

“Our message to the prime minister is that we are serious about protecting the consultant workforce and thereby the NHS and patients.

“We are striking today, and will do so again in September and October, but the prime minister has the power to avert any action at all, by getting around the table and presenting us with a credible offer.”

The BMA claims consultants’ take-home pay has fallen by a third since 2008-09 and that the government’s latest pay award offer of 6 per cent represents another real-terms pay cut.

In response to the announcement, Mr Barclay said: “I am concerned and disappointed that the BMA has gone ahead with this industrial action, which will continue to affect patients and hamper efforts to cut NHS waiting lists.

“I’m aware some consultants cut short their annual leave over the most recent periods of industrial action by the BMA’s junior doctors committee and I am incredibly grateful to those staff who came forward to help protect patients and services.”

He reiterated the latest pay offer is “final” and urged the BMA to call off the strikes.

UPDATED: This article has been corrected as the second round of consultants’ strikes is taking place on 24 and 25 August, not July.