Hospital consultants to strike in July if members vote for industrial action

Junior doctors went on strike in April in a dispute over pay and working conditions - DANIEL LEAL/AFP
Junior doctors went on strike in April in a dispute over pay and working conditions - DANIEL LEAL/AFP

Hospital consultants will take part in strikes in July if the ballot of medics is successful, the British Medical Association has said.

Junior doctors will embark on three day strikes from Monday, in their third round of industrial action this year.

Now the British Medical Association (BMA) has announced that consultants will strike on July 20 and 21 if their ballot, which closes at the end of this month, is successful and there is no “credible pay offer” from the Government.

Next week’s strikes mean junior doctors will abandon all services, starting at 7am on June 14, including A&E, with their senior colleagues to “act up” to fill their roles.

During the proposed strikes for July, consultants will provide “Christmas Day cover”, meaning they will continue to provide all emergency services but many routine services will be stopped.

More than half a million operations and appointments have already been cancelled as a result of NHS strikes.

Strike action is not inevitable

The union said it was announcing the dates early, because of the “unique position of consultants as the NHS’s most senior clinicians, whose roles cannot be covered by other staff” saying the notice would allow the health service to make preparations.

Dr Vishal Sharma, BMA consultants committee chairman, said: “Strike action is not inevitable and it is well within the Government’s gift to present us with a reasonable offer that would stop industrial action in its tracks.

“But if this isn’t forthcoming, we are committed to action that is effective and that is safe. As the most senior and experienced doctors working in hospitals, no one can cover for consultants – and that’s why we’re giving our members, our colleagues and employers lengthy time to prepare, even ahead of our ballot closing. That way they can manage their lists and prioritise those patients most in need of care. We are also reiterating that any strike action will still deliver Christmas Day levels of care – meaning emergency departments will still be open and staffed with consultants.”

“The Government now has six weeks to come back to the table, with a fair and reasonable proposal that can prevent any industrial action from having to take place.”

The BMA says take-home pay is 35 per cent lower than it was 15 years ago, and has called for an offer that goes “some way toward making up for the decline we have seen”.

Needs to be ‘movement on both sides’

On Wednesday morning Steve Barclay, the Health Secretary, said there needed to be “movement on both sides” amid the dispute between the Government and junior doctors.

But Mr Barclay said the demand for a 35 per cent pay rise was “unreasonable” and could “move to 49 per cent if you added in next year”.

He insisted the Government’s door remains open, but accused the BMA’s junior doctors committee of refusing to budge from its 35 per cent pay demand, despite bringing an intermediary to negotiations.

The Government had offered junior doctors a rise of 5 per cent this year, and a one-off bonus for the previous year.

Mr Barclay told BBC Breakfast: “We had three weeks of talks with the junior doctors and the Government set out a fair offer... I don’t think the junior doctors refusing to move from their demand for a 35 per cent pay rise is a reasonable one.”