Full walk-out of junior doctors looming after union escalates strike action over contract row with government
- Credit: SIMON FINLAY
Patients at A&E departments and acute wards at East Anglian hospitals are set to be hit by a full walk-out of striking junior doctors protesting at the imposition of a new contract by the government.
In the second of two strike actions planned, on April 26-27, junior doctors - everyone up to consultant level - will do a full walk out, the British Medical Association (BMA) have announced.
In previous days of industrial action doctors have still provided emergency cover.
The BMA said the move 'follows the continued refusal by the government to step back from its decision to impose a new contract on junior doctors from August this year and resolve the dispute by re-entering talks'.
Dr Johann Malawana, chairman of the BMA's junior doctor committee, said: 'No junior doctor wants to take this action but the government has left us with no choice.
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'In refusing to lift imposition and listen to junior doctors' outstanding concerns, the Government will bear direct responsibility for the first full walkout of doctors in this country.'
The Department of Health condemned the move in a statement, saying: 'This escalation of industrial action by the BMA is both desperate and irresponsible - and will inevitably put patients in harm's way.
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'If the BMA had agreed to negotiate on Saturday pay, as they promised to do through Acas in November, we'd have a negotiated agreement by now.
'Instead, we had no choice but to proceed with proposals recommended and supported by NHS leaders.'
The major sticking point has been over weekend pay and whether Saturdays should attract extra 'unsocial' payments, according to the Press Association.
But doctors also fear being made to work more at weekends will stretch the availability of doctors between Mondays and Fridays, prompting concerns over staffing-levels and the impact on patient safety.
An earlier strike will start from 6am on April 6, lasting 48 hours, but emergency medicine is not affected by this.
The imposed contract is due to come into force in August.
During a strike earlier this month, which only affected non-emergency services, more than 1,000 appointments and operations were cancelled at the region's acute hospitals.