Doctors’ union the British Medical Association (BMA) have announced plans for an “escalation” of strike action.
The BMA is strongly opposed to the government’s decision to impose a new contract on junior doctors.
And junior doctors have themselves voting on several occasions to support the position of the British Medical Association, with workers all over the United Kingdom concerned about both working conditions and future provisions for the NHS.
The chairman of the BMA’s junior doctor committee (JDC), Dr Johann Malawana, wrote to medics to confirm that the JDC had “voted to move towards an escalation of its planned action”.
Malawana stated that the “exact nature” of the action would be confirmed shortly.
Pay has also been a prickly issue for junior doctors, with the terms of the imposed contract ultimately resulting in a 30% reduction in salary for some individuals.
The union’s options include a full walkout by junior doctors, including those working in emergency services, or prolonged strikes extending beyond 48 hours.
In each of the junior doctor strikes so far, emergency staff have remained in post, but this is now thought to be under serious threat as the government continues to occupy an intransigent position.
A&E doctors are among those most concerned about the new contract and pressure for a full walkout has been growing among BMA members frustrated that the union has so far proved powerless to prevent the Government imposing a new contract.
According to the plans of Chancellor George Osborne, the new contract will come into effect in August, cutting pay for Saturday working in exchange for an uplift in basic pay.
“Today we heard strong voices at JDC highlighting the need to step up our action in the face of such Government obduracy,” Dr Malawana wrote to BMA members.
“We have shown solidarity, stated our case clearly and passionately to the public, and done everything possible to avert what could be the worst of all worlds for junior doctors. This is why JDC voted today to move towards an escalation of its planned action. The exact nature of this action will be confirmed shortly. We know that no doctor wants to take such action but the refusal of the Government to get back around the table forces us down this road.”
In addition to the junior doctors dispute, the government is facing numerous problems related to the NHS, most notably financial issues.
The best case scenario based on current figures is that NHS trusts across the country will be collectively £2.5 billion in deficit by the end of the fiscal year.
And numerous top doctors have spoken out to condemn the plans of the government to seek £22 billion in efficiency savings by the end of the decade, stating that this is simply impractical and logistically impossible.
The last thing that Chancellor George Osborne would choose is stringent strike action from junior doctors, but it seems that the inflexible position of the government has now made this a certainty.