Mass strike expected by junior doctors as they threaten to leave NHS ‘for better paying jobs’

A mass walkout of junior doctors is expected after the results of the first strike ballot showed overwhelming support for industrial action.

The Hospital Consultants and Specialist Association (HCSA) has announced that junior doctors will go on strike across the country for the first time in March after 97 per cent voted in favor of the move.

Although HCSA members make up only a small proportion of England’s junior doctors, the result is likely to be an indicator of prevailing sentiment.

The British Medical Association (BMA) also polled 45,000 junior doctors with results to be announced on Monday and insiders predict they will mirror those of the HCSA, prompting a massive 72-hour strike in March.

Industrial action this year has already led to more than 57,000 rescheduled operations and appointments, but if junior doctors’ strikes are as disruptive as in 2016, another 125,000 could be added to the backlog.

An Imperial College study found that the 2016 junior doctors’ strikes, which took place over six days, had a “significant impact” on care, with 100,000 cancellations of outpatient appointments and more than 25,000 fewer planned admissions than expected.

Announcing the strike on Wednesday, March 15, HCSA president Dr Naru Narayanan said junior doctors faced real-time pay cuts of more than 26%.

“moral injury”

“Young doctors are telling us that without changes they will leave the NHS or leave the country altogether for better paying medical jobs elsewhere,” he said.

“Our health service simply cannot afford for this to happen.”

Speaking at the BMA Junior Members Forum on Sunday, chairman Professor Philip Banfield said doctors were facing “moral injury” because they were unable to provide adequate care.

The BMA is also calling on strikers not to tell hospitals if they are going to stop to make it harder to schedule emergency shadow rotations.

The government said junior doctors had received cumulative pay rises of 8.2 per cent from 2019/2020, as well as introducing higher pay bands for more experienced staff and increasing rates for night shifts.

A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “We greatly value the work of junior doctors and have been clear that supporting and retaining the NHS workforce is one of our top priorities.”

It comes as another 24-hour ambulance strike hit England on Monday, with more than 11,000 paramedics, emergency care assistants and call operators across eight trusts walking out.

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