Junior doctors’ strikes against new contracts are back on, the British Medical Association (BMA) announced today, Monday.
They are to provide only “emergency care” on Tuesday of next week and Tuesday 26 and Wednesday 27 January, then hold a complete strike on Wednesday 10 February.
This deepens the political crisis facing Tory health secretary Jeremy Hunt.
Junior doctors are fighting his plans to impose new contracts that would rip up terms and conditions and put patient safety at risk.
The BMA suspended three planned walkouts last December to resume talks with the government. But after a nearly a month the talks broke down with the Tories refusing to budge on any key issues.
Nicki, a junior doctor in east London, told Socialist Worker, “The main sticking point was safeguards on hours—if the government can’t move on that we have to strike.”
Doctors already work long hours, but the new contracts would remove mandatory safeguards introduced in the 1990s amid fears for patient safety.
“This is about us making sure we can deliver patient care—we can’t accept a contract that’s not safe,” she said.
The BMA’s announcement comes at student nurses, midwives, occupational therapists and others are preparing to march against bursary cuts this Saturday.
Nicki added, “The feeling among junior doctors is that there’s an all-out assault on the NHS—whether that’s doctors or other health workers.
“Lots of junior doctors are planning to march in solidarity with the student nurses—we’re showing this is part of a united fight.”
Yannis Gourtsoyannis sits on the BMA’s junior doctors’ committee. He told Socialist Worker, “We live in times of austerity and the government feels compelled to attack NHS workers.
“But people across the NHS are waking up to their political agenda—there’s no doubt that our resistance can make them fail in 2016.”