Three new strikes to see thousands of Yorkshire junior doctors walk out in contract dispute

Junior doctors and medical students protest against the proposed changes to their contracts during a rally in Victoria Gardens, Leeds.Picture: Anna Gowthorpe
Junior doctors and medical students protest against the proposed changes to their contracts during a rally in Victoria Gardens, Leeds.Picture: Anna Gowthorpe
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Junior doctors across Yorkshire and beyond look set to go on strike in the coming weeks after a breakdown in talks over changes to their working contracts.

Representatives from the British Medical Association (BMA), NHS Employers and the Department of Health had been locked in talks to find a settlement over a new contract ahead of a crucial deadline tonight.

Dr Johann Malawana, chair of the BMA's junior doctor committee.

Dr Johann Malawana, chair of the BMA's junior doctor committee.

But the BMA has announced that there will be two periods of reduced ‘emergency care only’ staffing, for 24 hours next Tuesday and then 48 hours from January 26, followed by a nine-hour full walk-out of thousands of trainee doctors nationwide on February 10.

It comes after the BMA suspended three strikes, all due to take place in December, to re-enter talks with the Government over its controversial plans to impose a new contract on juniors by August 2016.

The BMA had until midnight tonight to decide whether to take industrial action. It blames the Government’s failure to address its concerns over working hour safeguards and payment for unsocial hours for the 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.

Mark Porter, BMA council chair, said: “The Government has repeatedly dragged its feet throughout this process, initially rejecting our offer of talks and failing to make significant movement during negotiations.”

He added that doctors “sincerely regret the disruption” striking will cause but feels doctors have been left with no option.

A collective of Yorkshire juniors who organised a protest over the plans in Leeds in October said doctors must be prepared to do whatever is necessary to safeguard patients, their profession and the NHS.

A statement released by the group said: “There has been some progress but there is still fundamental disagreement on key areas – so sadly we have once again been backed into a corner.

“The government are still not taking our concerns seriously.”

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “It is extremely disappointing that the BMA have chosen to take industrial action which helps no one.

“We had made good progress in talks, resolving 15 of the 16 issues put forward by the union - everything apart from weekend pay.

“We have now asked Acas to reconvene talks in the hope the BMA will return to sensible negotiations.”

Last year the dispute resulted in the BMA announcing partial or full strikes of juniors on December 1, 8 and 16.

Although the strikes were averted on November 30, the last minute call saw many minor operations and outpatient clinics delayed.

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