Wes Streeting: I don’t support the junior doctors’ strike

Wes Streeting - Jeff Gilbert for The Telegraph
Wes Streeting - Jeff Gilbert for The Telegraph

Wes Streeting, the shadow health secretary, said he does not support the junior doctors’ strike, although he believes they are “making a fair argument” over pay.

The British Medical Association has announced a four-day walkout by junior doctors in England from April 11 in a dispute over salary increases.

The Labour frontbencher told LBC Radio on Friday: “No, I don’t support the strike actually. I don’t want the strike to go ahead.

“I do think the junior doctors are making a fair argument around their pay and the fact that pay has not kept up with inflation.”

The fresh round of industrial action will follow this month’s three-day strike by junior doctors in support of their demand for a 35 per cent pay increase – a claim that ministers have said is unaffordable.

Mr Streeting said he does not believe the demand is “unfair or unreasonable”, but that it is not immediately attainable.

“I think the headline pay demand they’re making, I don’t think is achievable overnight, and I’ve been honest with them about that.

“But I don’t want to see the strikes happen. I want to see the Government come to a compromise so strikes do not need to go ahead.”

The announcement of further strike action came after the breakdown of pay talks with Steve Barclay, the Health Secretary.

Concerns over ‘mudslinging’

Mr Streeting urged the Government to engage in a “serious conversation” and spend “less time on Twitter and more time around the negotiating table”.

“I’m very concerned by the breakdown in talks and the mudslinging that government ministers have been doing towards junior doctors. I don’t think that’s really going to help,” he told GB News.

Mr Streeting warned of the “genuine risk of the patient safety”, with the walkout due to follow the four-day Easter bank holiday weekend.