Leeds hospitals gear up for major junior doctor strike as contract row continues

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Junior doctors in Yorkshire claim to have been “backed into a corner” as they prepare for major strike action next week.

There are around 6,000 trainees in the White Rose likely to be in some way involved in newly-announced strikes on January 12, 26 and February 10 in the dispute over proposed changes to their contracts.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

Pickets, first aid sessions and Meet the Doctors events are being organised ahead of the 24-hour period of reduced ‘emergency care only’ staffing from 8am next Tuesday.

Meanwhile hospital trusts nationally are putting plans in place to reduce the impact of the walk-outs on patients.

A group of Yorkshire juniors, who organised a protest over the plans in Leeds in October, said: “Sadly we have once again been backed into a corner. The Government are still not taking our concerns seriously.”

The BMA’s other planned strikes include a 48-hour period of emergency care only from January 26 and a full nine-hour walk-out on February 10.

The last minute decision to suspend three December strikes resulted in thousands of minor operations and outpatient clinics being postponed nationwide last year, and similar disruption is expected in the coming weeks.

The BMA revealed the new strike plans after talks with the Government broke down on Monday. It blames the Government’s “failure” to address concerns over working hour safeguards and payment for unsocial hours for its decision.

In November 98 per cent of junior doctors voted for industrial action over what the BMA describes as an “unsafe and unfair” contract proposal.

Yvette Oade, from Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said it is refining its planning to ensure all patients are looked after “safely and appropriately during any industrial action”.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt branded the strike plan “extremely disappointing” and has called for talks to resume.