Tory Minister gets owned by journalist after dig at ‘political’ junior doctors’ strike

Junior doctors in England have announced fresh industrial action ahead of the general election

Tom Tugendhat

Junior doctors in England will take five days of strike action in the lead up to the general election as the long-running, bitter dispute for pay restoration goes on. 

Announcing the strikes, the British Medical Association (BMA) said Rishi Sunak had continued to refuse to meet union demands for a “roadmap to restore pay lost over the last 15 years”, following three months of talks between the union and Government, which failed to result in an agreement. 

Over 14 months on from the first strike by junior doctors in England, the BMA said it was made clear to the Government that its members would strike again unless the recent discussions ended in a credible pay offer.

This latest full walkout – the eleventh now – by junior doctors will start from 7am, 27 June and end 7am 2 July, two days before the general election. 

Tory Ministers have responded by accusing strikers of being politically motivated, with the Prime Minister saying that the timing makes it look “incredibly political”.

Health Secretary Victoria Atkins wrote on X: “Announcing this during an election and on Labour’s health day shows this was only ever political and not about patients or staff.”

When quizzed on the newly announced strike action on Politics Live, Tory Minister Tom Tugendhat again claimed it was “very political”.

However he was taken to task by Politics JOE journalist Ava Santina who quizzed Tugendhat on his claim, pointing out that Labour has not agreed either to the 35% pay rise the BMA has asked for, however the party would be willing to negotiate with them and on improving working and shift conditions. 

“I don’t think they’re trying to give Labour any votes,” said Ava.

Tugendhat insisted: “Well it looks political because it’s being played during a political campaign rather than waiting until politicians.. are about to make those decisions.”

Ava responded: “Cabinet’s still there, you’re still able to negotiate with them and you do have the choice at the moment where you either pay the agency staff to come in and take over from them while they’re on strike, or you actually settle the dispute.”

She went on: “Arguably, it will be much cheaper for you if you actually just settle the dispute than bringing in agency workers.”

Junior doctors have already warned that the Government has now wasted £3bn to cover the strikes, more than double the amount it would take to settle the pay dispute. 

Tugendhat insisted that the Tory Party had invested “more than any other administration” in the NHS, to which Ava pointed out, “but not in the workers”.

(Image credit: Politics Live YouTube screenshot)

Hannah Davenport is news reporter at Left Foot Forward 

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