Junior doctors strike: Medical leaders call on both sides to ‘step back from the brink’

The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges has issued a warning ahead of an all-out junior doctors strike planned for next month


The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges has called on both Jeremy Hunt and the British Medical Association (BMA) to return to negotiations about the junior doctors contract.

Supported by the presidents of all the medical royal colleges and faculties, the statement describes ‘a state of unprecedented crisis for the NHS’ and emphasises the need to prioritise patient welfare.

“We call on both sides in the dispute to step back from the brink by suspending imposition of the contract and the all-out strike and urge a return to negotiations. We believe that this is essential if the current impasse is to be broken and progress made in resolving this extremely damaging stand-off for the benefit of all NHS stakeholders, particularly our patients and trainees.”

Next month, junior doctors plan to stage the first all-out strike in the history of the NHS, marking an escalation from previous strikes, which have excluded A&E services.

So far, the public has decisively sided with the doctors, but an all-out strike will test the limits of public sympathy. The Academy’s warning will be a blow to the BMA, which has enjoyed near-universal support within the profession.

Commenting on the statement, Heidi Alexander, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, commented:

“Jeremy Hunt has four weeks until the next period of industrial action. It is vital that he uses that time to find a solution to this dispute that does not involve imposition. If he fails to do so the only losers will be patients.”

The BMA has argued that no doctor wants to undertake an all-out strike, but that there is no alternative given the government’s refusal to acknowledge the legitimate concerns of the profession.

Previous talks stalled over the question of additional pay for weekend hours and, when agreement couldn’t be reached, Hunt announced that the Government would unilaterally impose the contract.

Niamh Ní Mhaoileoin is editor of Left Foot Forward


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