The British Medical Association has announced nine days of further strike action by junior doctors, after extended talks with the government failed to produce an offer the union felt could be put to members.
The move will come as a major setback to NHS providers, which had hoped to avoid strikes over the difficult winter period.
A first set of action will run from 20 to 23 December, with a second from 3 January to 9 January. The latter period is typically when NHS emergency services experience extreme pressure.
As reported last week, the BMA’s consultants’ committee has agreed an offer that will be put to members in January, with strikes paused until the outcome of that ballot. This had raised hopes of a similar deal for junior doctors.
The government has implemeted a pay rise for junior doctors that averages 8.8 per cent in 2023-24.
It is understood there was a vote within the junior doctors’ committee this morning on whether to put the government’s latest offer to members, or to announce further strikes.
BMA junior doctors committee co-chairs Dr Robert Laurenson and Dr Vivek Trivedi said: “After five weeks of intense talks, the government was unable to present a credible offer on pay by the deadline. Instead, we were offered an additional 3 per cent, unevenly spread across doctors’ grades, which would still amount to pay cuts for many doctors this year. It is clear the government is still not prepared to address the real-terms pay cut doctors have experienced since 2008.
“The approach from [new health secretary] Victoria Atkins and the team has been productive but ultimately that alone is not sufficient to make up for 15 years of declining pay.”