BMA announces fresh wave of strikes – and legal challenge

British Medical Association
Image Credit: Roger Blackwell, Flickr

The British Medical Association (BMA) has announced a fresh wave of industrial action and says it is also preparing to launch a judicial review into the Department of Health’s decision to impose a new contract on junior doctors in England.

The doctors’ union has confirmed dates for three further strikes, each for a period of 48-hours, to begin from 8am on March 9, April 6 and April 26. As with previous strikes, only emergency cover will be provided by participating junior doctors.

The BMA says a legal challenge is also now being sought on the grounds of an alleged failure by the government to undertake an Equality Impact Assessment (EIA) prior to its decision to force new terms and conditions on junior doctors, due to take effect in August.

Government “incompetence”

BMA Junior Doctors Committee (JDC) Chair, Dr Johann Malawana, describes the situation as “yet another example of the incompetence which the Government has demonstrated throughout its handling of the dispute”.

He adds: “Imposing this contract will seriously undermine the ability of the NHS to recruit and retain junior doctors in areas of medicine with the most unsocial areas, where there are already staffing shortages.

“We have already seen NHS chief executives refusing to support an imposition, and patient representatives have said they are appalled by this move.

“Added to this, the Government’s former adviser on patient safety, Don Berwick, has said it should apologise to junior doctors over the contract dispute. The Government must listen to the chorus of concern coming from all quarters and reconsider this disastrous approach.”

The JDC made the decision at a meeting over the weekend following regional discussions with junior doctors regarding the next step. In a BMA ballot last November, 98% of those who voted indicated they were in favour of industrial action.

Dr Malawana adds: “The Government can avert this action by re-entering talks with the BMA and addressing rather than simply ignoring the outstanding issues and concerns junior doctors have.”

Credit: OurNHS openDemocracy, YouTube

Image Credit: OurNHS openDemocracy, YouTube

Strikes “unnecessary”

A spokesperson for the Department of Health says: “Further strike action is completely unnecessary and will mean tens of thousands more patients face cancelled operations – over a contract that was 90% agreed with the BMA and which senior NHS leaders including Simon Stevens have endorsed as fair and safe.

“We urge junior doctors to look at the detail of the contract and the clear benefits it brings.”

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