As the end of the first 48-hour strike by junior doctors nears, a union has claimed backing for industrial action remains strong despite there being no end in sight to the dispute.
The British Medical Association (BMA) has said the “depth of feeling” among trainees has been shown by the numbers of workers who have gone out on to 147 picket lines in England.
This week’s strike follows Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s decision to impose a new junior contract on workers from August as part of a long-running contract dispute between the BMA and Government.
Striking doctors have protested outside every major hospital in Yorkshire including St James’s Hospital and Leeds General Infirmary on Wednesday and today.
The ‘emergency care only’ strike, which ends tomorrow at 8am, has seen more than 5,000 procedures cancelled nationwide. Around 50 operations and 600 appointments were postponed in Leeds alone.
Two further 48-hour partial walk-outs are due from 8am on April 6 and 26.
Dr Johann Malawana, BMA junior doctor committee chair, said: “No junior doctor wants to take this action but we have been left with no choice following the Government’s decision to impose a contract that is unfair on junior doctors and could damage the long term delivery of patient care in England.
“The fact that tens of thousands of junior doctors have supported this action in the past two days, with 147 picket lines taking place across the country, demonstrates the depth of feeling amongst grass roots doctors.”
Meanwhile a new Ipsos MORI poll has found that two-thirds of the general public back junior doctors’ decision to strike.
The Department of Health has condemned the strike as “irresponsible” and said the new contract is a “very good deal for doctors”.