Young doctors will go on a 96-hour strike next month after pay negotiations with ministers failed.
The heads of the British Medical Association (BMA), which is orchestrating the strike, said it will take place between 7am on April 11 and 7am on April 15.
This means the strike will come just after the bank holiday weekend, when the NHS will offer a “Christmas Day” level of service, traditionally a busy period for the health service.
Union officials argued that the decision to go back on strike was due to the lack of a “credible offer.” Young doctors want 35 percent to bust inflation.
Dr Vivek Trivedi and Dr Robert Laurenson, co-chairs of the BMA’s young doctors committee, said they announced the new industry action with “disappointment and great frustration”.
Young doctors picket outside St Thomas’ Hospital in central London during their first strike earlier this month.
Representatives of the British Medical Association told Health Secretary Steve Barclay (pictured) that they would be unwilling to accept anything less than a 35 per cent pay rise.
‘The government has delayed at every opportunity,’ they said.
‘He has made no credible offer and refuses to accept that there is any case for wage restoration, describing our core request as “unrealistic” and “unreasonable.”
“Even yesterday they continued to add new unacceptable preconditions to the talks instead of going ahead and trying to find a solution.”
They added that as a result of this, they did not have “confidence” that the further negotiation would be successful.
BMA officials said the blame for the new strike action rested solely with the government, which has already managed to make a bid for other unions that have held strikes this winter.
“We want to spend our time caring for patients, not on strike,” a spokesman said.
‘But with an NHS reeling under a workforce crisis, and four in ten young doctors looking to leave, we cannot stand idly by as our pay is further eroded by inflation and intransigent government.
“We are not going to stop until we are paid what we are worth, and if the ministers do not accept that when we tell them in person, we will have to tell them from the picket line.”
Talks between the BMA, described as ‘militant’ by its critics, and Health Secretary Steve Barclay collapsed after they said they were willing to accept nothing less than a 35 percent pay increase.
They also demanded free car parking, the abolition of exam fees, and a guarantee that future wage increases would be linked to inflation.
Nearly 325,000 surgeries and appointments have been canceled due to NHS strikes this winter
Barclay told the doctors yesterday to go away and ‘reflect’ on how they wish to proceed, adding that there is no point in continuing the talks until they are willing to cede ground.
The BMA has now responded by announcing new strike dates, which are even longer than previous industrial actions.
This will be the second time the junior doctors have dropped the current dispute over salary.
A similar three-day strike last week led to the cancellation of more than 175,000 NHS appointments and procedures. saw them go Emergency rooms, maternity services and oncology units.
The newly announced action is likely to have a similar, if not greater, impact.
NHS England said around 28,700 doctors below consultant rank were absent from work every day as a result of last week’s industrial action.
The strike is part of the BMA’s campaign for ‘pay restoration’ for young doctors.
The industrial action of young doctors has a particularly large impact on the NHS, as they make up around 45 per cent of the medical workforce.
Junior doctors have been nicknamed the “backbone of the NHS” due to the large amount of daily work they do in the health service, such as ordering tests and scans, and checking and discharging patients.
This also helps free up more experienced doctors to handle specific specialist patients or more complex cases.
NHS Providers deputy chief executive Saffron Cordery said the prospect of a 96-hour strike by junior doctors “will ring alarm bells” for the health service, particularly because of the timing.
“It would immediately follow a four-day holiday weekend, which means demand will have built up even before the strike starts on April 11,” he said.
‘There will be no exemptions either. This threatens the biggest disruption to the NHS strikes yet.’
She called on both the government and the BMA to urgently reintroduce ‘good faith’ talks.
“There should be no question about the scale of the impact on patients, staff and the NHS. Nobody wants this,’ she said.
A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “More strikes will put patient safety at risk and cause further disruption.”
They added that while the door remains open for “constructive talks”, the BMA’s precondition of talks centered on a 35 per cent pay increase was “unreasonable”.
The BMA’s latest move comes just days after it revealed it was considering plans for a nationwide GP strike.
Options being considered by the union, in an as yet unannounced vote, could include a 24-hour closure of GP surgeries in England.
The union is seeing the move as a protest against an ‘insulting’ NHS contract, heralded as the end of Britons’ hated 8am fight for appointments.
A separate pay dispute, involving NHS staff including nurses, physiotherapists and ambulance staff, is currently on pause with union members voting on a pay deal that includes a one-time bonus of up to £3,800 and a 5% pay increase. cent for the next year.
However, some NHS union members are staging a riot over what they described as a ‘trifling’ offering from ministers.
An inter-union group called NHS Workers Say No has already sent out thousands of leaflets, made online calls and started WhatsApp networks to persuade members to reject the deal.
The deal came after months of wrangling, with ministers offering the £4bn deal to unions in a bid to end strikes that have paralyzed hospitals and led to the cancellation of more than 100,000 procedures this winter.