English Junior Doctors to Strike for Five Days, According to BMA
The British Medical Association (BMA) has announced that junior doctors in England will strike for five consecutive days, from February 24 to 28, amidst a pay dispute with the government.
The BMA, representing the junior doctors, is calling for a 35% pay hike, a demand previously turned down by officials. The upcoming strike is set to impact routine hospital services, possibly leading to disruptions and cancellations.
While the government has expressed a willingness to negotiate and improve the current pay offer, their efforts have yet to yield a compromise.
Junior doctors had already received an approximate 9% raise for this financial year and could have seen an additional 3% during negotiations in late 2023, but discussions concluded in early December without an agreement.
BMA junior doctors committee leaders Dr. Robert Laurenson and Dr. Vivek Trivedi have stressed their openness to resolving the dispute without resorting to a strike, awaiting a "credible offer" from the government.
The BMA argues that their proposed pay increase would offset years of below-inflation salary adjustments since 2008.
Health Secretary Victoria Atkins criticized the strike plans, stating they show a lack of willingness to engage in reasonable negotiations, and highlighting the added strain five days of strikes would place on the National Health Service (NHS).
If carried out, this action would mark the 10th strike since March 2023, following a six-day walkout in January—the longest in NHS history—that resulted in roughly 100,000 appointment cancellations.
Junior doctors make up nearly half of all NHS doctors, ranging from recent graduates to those with a decade or more of experience. Further strike action beyond this February's strikes is also under consideration by the BMA.
Strikes have led to over 1.2 million medical appointment cancellations since December 2022, involving various NHS staff such as nurses, paramedics, and consultants. The union is also engaged in discussions for a new pay deal for consultants, having rejected the latest proposal.