Junior doctors to stage fresh wave of strikes over Christmas and New Year period after rejecting new pay offer

5 December 2023, 13:20 | Updated: 5 December 2023, 13:55

A British Medical Association (BMA) picket outside University College Hospital in October
A British Medical Association (BMA) picket outside University College Hospital in October. Picture: Alamy

By Asher McShane

Junior doctors will go on strike in England this month and next month after rejecting a proposed 3% pay deal offered by the government.

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They have already been awarded a rise of an average of 9%.

The BMA said “negotiators for the Department of Health and Social Care have not been able to put forward a credible offer to end the pay dispute.”

BMA junior doctors committee co-chairs Dr Robert Laurenson and Dr Vivek Trivedi said: "We have been clear from the outset of these talks that we needed to move at pace and if we did not have a credible offer, we would be forced to call strikes. After five weeks of intense talks, the Government was unable to present a credible offer on pay by the deadline.

"Instead, we were offered an additional 3%, unevenly spread across doctors' grades, which would still amount to pay cuts for many doctors this year. It is clear the Government is still not prepared to address the real-terms pay cut doctors have experienced since 2008.

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"It is a great shame that even though the approach was more constructive, there was not enough on offer to shape a credible deal, which we hoped would end the dispute. Without enough progress by the deadline, we have no choice but to take action that demonstrates doctors are as determined as ever in reversing their pay cuts.

"However, we can still avoid the need for these strikes. We will be ready and willing any time the Government wants to talk. If a credible offer can be presented the day before, or even during any action, these strikes can be cancelled.

"The approach from Ms Atkins (Health Secretary Victoria Atkins) and the team has been productive but ultimately that alone is not sufficient to make up for 15 years of declining pay.

"A year after our dispute started, we are still too far from turning the tide on plummeting pay, morale, and retention of doctors. Rather than waste more time and money and have further disruption to patient care, the Health Secretary needs to make a credible offer now."

The BMA said junior doctors would strike from 7am on December 20 to 7am on December 23 and from 7am on January 3 to 7am on January 9.