Astonishing 98% of junior doctors vote for strike action – the first in NHS history

Headache for Hunt as longer hours for less money is unpopular among junior doctors

Health minister Jeremy Hunt has got a major proverbial headache to deal with.

Junior doctors have overwhelmingly condemned the government’s planned measures to pay them less for doing longer hours, with over 98% voting in favour of an all-out strike. Meanwhile over 99% voted in favour of industrial action of some kind, demonstrating the determination of the doctors.  

Over 37,000 doctors were balloted, and turnout was at 76%.

Strikes will start next month. On December 1, junior doctors will provide “emergency care only” for 24 hours, then on the 8 and 16 December, they will implement a full walk out from 8am to 5pm.

It will be the first all-out strike in NHS history.

Why has this happened?

After the cost of university fees for between 5-6 years of training, junior doctors currently have a starting salary of £22,636.

But the government is attempting to push through new contracts for junior doctors that the British Medical Association (BMA), has said would mean pay cuts of up to 30% and the slashing of premium rates for doctors working between 7am and 10pm on every day apart from Sunday.

Hunt described the strikes as “totally unwarranted”. He added: “It is going to be very difficult to avoid harm to patients during these three days of industrial action.”

Prime Minister David Cameron has thrown his support behind the cuts. His spokeswoman said: “Jeremy Hunt is doing an excellent job on the health service.

“He has been leading the work with the BMA on negotiations and he should continue that.”

The strike has received the backing of the Medical Practitioners’ Union (MPU), part of Unite.

Dr Ron Singer, of the MPU said: “The overwhelming vote of junior doctors to take strike action is a failure of the government’s treatment of another part of the NHS workforce which it fails to value.

“This strike represents a failure by government to accept that its proposals and decision to impose them are counter to safe medical practice, as well as to safe working practice.”

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Readers' comments (2)

  • Be nice to know how much they really earn- one BBC report said starting salary is £60,000.
    Perhaps its time to question if we need so many highly paid doctors especialy GP's. The new Physcians assistance or nurse practioners can do most of the work of GP's and non-consultant doctors, combine that with rapidly developing cognitive and knowledge based computing, the GP might become an extinct species!

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  • Sorry Brian but which BBC report are you referring to, since the pay/grade scales for Junior Doctors are clearly set out and in the public eye. As are comparable working hours and pay scales in alternative destinations for our skilled young medical staff, which I know large numbers of junior doctors and current Med students are seriously considering should these changes go through. And where is your 'medical expertise' sourced from to enable you to state that staff trained to the level of nurse or assistants can easily replace Doctors, who have firstly managed to successfully get in to Medical School (no mean feat let me tell you) then studied for 5-7 years hard to begin a career during which they will be constantly retrained and training those more junior to themselves. The mediocre starting salary is not what attracts these highly intelligent people in to Medicine, it is the job interest and the desire to care for others. Knowledge based computing cannot replace that, and robotics can be used as a tool by trained medical staff but robots in every study are least likely to replace Doctors than in any other profession. But if you make these peoples work life balance so tipped into an unbalance with Jeremy Hunts proposals, meaning they will have no time for a family life, you will lose many of them to countries that better appreciate their talents. May i hazard a guess that you are fairly young and may, I hope, have had little need of a Doctors skills to date, but once you gain in years and begin to find visits to surgeries a 'little more frequent' than you would wish for, you will appreciate their skills, their reassurance and their care. Or perhaps you'll be happy self analysing, good luck to you, but I know where i will be turning for my next diagnosis, and it won't be to a computer, as long as our superb medical professionals are still living in the UK.

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