The Junior Doctors Committee (JDC) of the British medical Association has called on the union to authorise further strike action as the ongoing row over contract continues.
The full council will be asked to support industrial action from early September, as healthcare professionals continue to play hardball with the government and authorities.
In response to the contractual terms offered to junior doctors, the JDC suggests that concerns that the organisation has expressed have not been satisfactorily addressed.
The contract was rejected by 58% of its members who voted in the ballot.
In a letter to members, Dr Ellen McCourt, who chairs the JDC, said the government had remained “persistently silent” on issues which, she said, had resulted in the contract being rejected.
“In light of this, the JDC Executive has voted to reject the proposed new contract in full and to call for formal re-negotiations on all of your concerns. In response to the government’s silence, JDC exec has today made a formal request for a special meeting of BMA Council to authorise a rolling programme of escalated industrial action beginning in early September.”
But Daniel Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, was scathing on at the prospect of further industrial action, and its alleged impact on the health service.
Mortimer suggested that strikes “would achieve little or nothing, but place pressure on already stretched teams and services and causes worry, distress and disruption for patients, carers and their families”.
Many physicians and healthcare professionals will doubtless disagree with this stance, considering it to be something of a guilt trip.
Nonetheless, Mortimer suggested that during the past two months that dialogue had been taking place with the Junior Doctors Committee, and NHS Employers has “responded positively to concerns regarding the guardian role and whistleblowing”.
And the chief executive suggested that the conduct of the authorities was indicative of how seriously they took the contract and concerns of healthcare employees.
“Employers were hopeful that the continued positive engagement on other important topics… were a sign of how serious employers, Health Education England and the Department of Health were about honouring the agreements reached with the BMA.”
With six strikes having already occurred over the matter, including the first total walkout in the history of the NHS, there is no doubt that both sides would prefer to avoid further industrial action.
The BMA’s junior doctor leader, Dr Johann Malawana, has already resigned as a consequence of the BMA supporting the contract, which was later rejected by ballot.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has insisted that the contract will be imposed on medics in England.
But it seems that this story has more mileage to run in the meantime.