Junior doctors call off strike – but do not ‘absolve’ Jeremy Hunt

October walkout still scheduled to go ahead


The British Medical Association has announced the suspension of a five-day junior doctors strike planned for later this month, following widespread criticism from within the profession and patients groups.

Ellen McCourt, Junior Doctors Committee chair, issued the following statement:

“Over the past few days we have been described as radical, we have been described as militant, we have been described as prioritising ourselves over our patient’s safety.

This is not true.

Patient safety remains doctors’ primary concern. For the first time in this dispute NHS England have told us that a service under such pressure cannot cope with the notice period for industrial action given. Our hospitals are chronically under staffed. Our NHS is desperately underfunded. We have to listen to our colleagues when they tell us that they need more time to keep patients safe.

We have also listened to the concerns of working doctors, patient groups and the public. Thousands of you have been in touch, your level of anger over the Secretary of State’s imposed contract remains high, but at the same time you want to keep your patients safe during industrial action.

The BMA is therefore suspending the industrial action planned for the week of 12 September. The remaining programme of industrial action stays in place.

This does not absolve the Secretary of State. He continues to ignore our request to stop the imposition. He continues to force upon junior doctors a contract that discriminates against carers, parents, doctors with disabilities and women, a contract that devalues our time and a contract that disincentives careers in our most struggling specialties. He continues to strive towards an uncosted, unfunded, unstaffed extended seven day service. He continues to disregard the concerns junior doctors have about staffing shortages and patient safety.

Future action is, however, still avoidable. The BMA has repeatedly said that it will call off further action if the Secretary of State stops his imposition of the contract, listen to the concerns of junior doctors, and works with us to negotiate a contract, based upon fresh agreed principles, that has the confidence of junior doctors.

There are four weeks until October. The Secretary of State must use this time to listen and act.”

This means is that the walkout scheduled for 12-16 September will not take place. However, three further strikes are scheduled to go ahead in October, November and December.

While the BMA will attempt to use these threatened strikes as leverage, this suspension will be seen as a significant climb down.

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.

3 Responses to “Junior doctors call off strike – but do not ‘absolve’ Jeremy Hunt”

  1. David Davies

    To strike would have been tactically inept.

    Far better to work to rule to the existing contracts, and prove to everyone that there are insufficient trained people to run a 5 day service.

  2. Michael WALKER

    This whole episode reminds me of the miners’ strike.

    ” The Government are going to close the mines so let’s close them ourselves”.

    “The Government are going to privatise the NHS so let’s help them”.

  3. CR

    Support for these highly paid middle-class professionals has gone since they rejected their own organisation’s recommendation to accept the terms of the new contract. It always seemed to me that their opposition to Saturday and Sunday working was due to their missing their weekend round of golf more than anything else.

Leave a Reply