Junior doctors to strike from June 14-17 in bitter pay dispute

A rally in London in support of striking NHS junior doctors (PA Wire)
A rally in London in support of striking NHS junior doctors (PA Wire)

Junior doctors are to go on strike next month, the British Medical Association announced on Monday night.

The 72-hour stoppage will run from 7am on Wednesday, 14 June, to 7am on Saturday, 17 June.

It will be the third strike junior doctors have held as part of a campaign to force ministers to give them a 35% pay rise to make up for what they estimate to be a 26.2% fall in the real-terms value of their salaries since 2008.

The BMA said the Government’s offer of a 5% increase was “simply not a credible offer”.

In a statement it said: “In response to the Government’s paltry 5% pay increase offer we are calling for a full 72-hour walkout of all junior doctors in England. Junior doctors deserve full pay restoration now - and the goal of this third round of industrial action is to force the Government to put forward a credible offer.”

Dr Vivek Trivedi and Dr Robert Laurenson, co-chairs of the BMA Junior Doctors Committee, said the BMA had had three weeks of negotiations with the Government but that ministers would not recognise “the scale of our pay erosion”, which they said is equivalent to a 26% cut over the last 15 years.

He added: “We made clear from the very start that talks required a recognition of the scale of our pay erosion. No such recognition has been forthcoming. We made proposals showing our willingness to be creative and work with the Government on how the reversal of our pay erosion could be achieved. In the end, however, the Government would simply not accept the fundamental reality of the pay cuts junior doctors have faced.

“This was made clear when they finally made their pay offer of 5%. Not only is that nowhere near addressing pay erosion over the last fifteen years, it would not even have matched inflation this year. We are not in these meetings to agree to have our pay cut further, and the Government knows that. This was simply not a credible offer.

“Despite this we are willing to continue talking and we expect to meet the Health Secretary on Wednesday as scheduled, where we hope he will bring a credible offer.

“Four in ten junior doctors are looking to leave the NHS, and the health service staggers under a workforce crisis. This is no time for the Government to play games on pay. We have made a start but the Government now needs to get serious.”

A Government spokesperson said: “It is both surprising and deeply disappointing that the BMA Junior Doctors Committee has declared further strike action while constructive talks were ongoing. These will be hugely disruptive for patients and put pressure on other NHS staff.

“We made a fair and reasonable opening offer, and were in active discussions about both pay and non-pay issues.

“Unfortunately, it seems the BMA is unwilling to move meaningfully away from their unaffordable headline demands on pay. The government has been clear that strikes must be paused while talks take place, so while the BMA has chosen to end our current discussions, we remain ready to continue them at any point if strikes are called off.”

It comes as junior doctors in Scotland were offered a 14.5% pay rise.

The new offer from the Scottish government, which covers a two-year period, was made after negotiations with BMA Scotland.

The union will now consult its members, who voted in favour of strike action earlier this month, on the offer.