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Young doctors ‘could continue to strike for another year,’ says BMA insider | industrial action

Young doctors could go on strike for another year in their bitter pay dispute with the government, despite growing concern from NHS leaders about how the industrial action is disrupting patient care.

Trainee doctors in England could even stage a week-long stoppage to step up their industrial action campaign to secure a 35 per cent pay rise from Health Secretary Steve Barclay.

The prospect of prolonged and intensified shutdowns by England’s 61,000 young doctors comes as the NHS prepares for four days of severely stretched hospitals by a strike which begins at 7am on Tuesday and will have the biggest impact of any strike in the service’s 75-year history.

The forced cancellation of up to 350,000 outpatient appointments and operations has led hospital bosses to ask the Acas Conciliation Service to get involved to try and broker a deal to end the dispute, amid fears that patients are put at risk as a result of the strike.

Barclay and the British Medical Association (BMA) are at odds over junior doctors’ demand for a 35 per cent pay rise to act as ‘full pay restoration’ for the 26.2 per cent loss of earnings in real terms they have suffered since 2008.

Young doctors are also disappointed by the growing inability of the overwhelmed health service, which has more than 130,000 vacancies, to provide prompt, high-quality care to people in the event of a medical emergency, for example at A&E or after calling 999.

Sources from the BMA, the main doctor’s union, told the Guardian that young doctors’ leaders are considering stepping up their industrial action in an attempt to force the government to negotiate.

“If there is no movement, we are looking at months and months of action. This could go until the next general election,” a senior BMA source said.

A second BMA official said: “Climbing could be on the cards. There is enough motivation and resources for young doctors to continue for another year.

A third union source added: “The next round of strikes could be longer if Barclay does not move. He must be pressured to start making offers. I’m sure the juniors have a five-day strike in mind.

To decide their next steps, the leaders of the BMA’s Junior Doctors Committee (JDC) will have to assess the extent to which the doctors they represent will be willing to lose five days’ wages if they decide to go on a one-day strike. such a long duration. Junior doctors held a three-day shutdown last month.

The JDC will also have to take into account the willingness of their consultant colleagues – the senior doctors – to replace the juniors, including on night shifts, when they refuse to work.

The JDC has indicated its willingness to lower its demand by 35%. He twice asked Barclay last week to make the junior doctors “a credible offer” that would allow the JDC to call off this week’s action and start talks.

However, the health secretary argues that the 35% is a precondition for holding talks which he is not prepared to meet – a claim the BMA disputes.

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Matthew Taylor, the chief executive of the NHS Confederation, suggested that Acas get involved to try to break the deadlock between Barclay and the BMA.

The conciliation service could “provide a basis for negotiation, because – in any case – the position seems to have hardened in recent days”.

He also urged the public to avoid “risky behaviour” this week, to try to minimize the burden on hospitals which will be stretched even harder than usual with their young doctors absent.

“It’s going to be an incredibly tough week,” Taylor said.

“We have four days of industrial action which of course comes after the Easter Bank Holiday weekend followed by another weekend so you are talking about 10 or 11 days when the NHS is not unable to operate at full power. ”

This week’s shutdown would have a “catastrophic impact” on the health service’s efforts to tackle the backlog of 7.2 million patients awaiting hospital care, Taylor added.

theguardian Gt

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