Junior doctors will stage their first all-out strike without emergency cover in a major escalation in their dispute over dangerous new contracts.
The latest action will take place between 8am and 5pm on Tuesday and Wednesday, April 26 and 27. That comes on top of a separate 48-hour strike, leaving emergency cover in place, from 8am on Wednesday April 6 to 8am Friday April 8.
The British Medical Association (BMA) says it has been forced into the unprecedented action by intransigent Tory Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.
BMA junior doctors committee chair Dr Johann Malawana said: “The government will bear direct responsibility for the first full walkout of doctors in this country.”
He accused ministers of “flatly refusing to engage with junior doctors,” and “wilfully ignoring the mounting chorus of concerns over its plans to impose coming from doctors, patients and senior NHS managers.”
He said junior doctors already work seven days a week around the clock under their current contract, and that the biggest barrier to a seven-day NHS is “a chronic lack of investment and a shortage of staff” — not junior doctors’ contracts.
“Faced with this reality what else can junior doctors do?” he asked.
Dr Malawana apologised for disruption caused to patients, but said the action was “wholly avoidable” if the government negotiated.
Pat Harrington, general secretary of Solidarity, commented: "A strike of this nature is a very serious action. Junior doctors are caring people who feel that they have been forced into a corner by an arrogant government that will not listen to their concerns. It is very sad it has come to this point and the government need to wake-up and smell the coffee!"
Green Party health spokesman Larry Sanders, brother of US presidential candidate Bernie, said: “The BMA’s decision to call the first full withdrawal of labour in its history is a response to that arrogance and is a message to the public of the severe threats facing the NHS.”