Junior Doctors row – three 48-hour strikes and judicial review announced, as Jeremy Hunt’s figures are called into question

Worst breakdown in relations between government and NHS, since the health service’s creation

The UK’s 53,000 junior doctors make up a third of all doctors in the UK. Following outrage over government imposed contracts, the British Medical Association said the doctors are to stage three more strikes, and will launch a judicial review to challenge the government’s forced contract changes.

The extent of the strikes is unprecedented, marking the worst breakdown in relations between the government and the NHS since its creation.

The British Medical Association argues that the contract, which will be imposed from the summer, will compromise patient care.

Starting salaries for junior doctors is £23,000.   

The BMA represents 38,000 of the UK’s 53,000 junior doctors, 98% of whom voted to strike in a ballot in November.

The walk-outs will be held on:

Wednesday 9 March from 8am

Wednesday 6 April from 8am

Tuesday 26 April from 8am

A government Department of Health spokesperson said: “Further strike action is completely unnecessary and will mean tens of thousands more patients face cancelled operations - over a contract that was 90% agreed with the BMA.

“We urge junior doctors to look at the detail of the contract and the clear benefits it brings.”

Hunt’s figures

Meanwhile, Labour has called for an investigation into whether the health secretary Jeremy Hunt used unverified figures to back his plans for the contract changes.

In July, Hunt said there were 6,000 deaths a year because of the lack of “a proper seven-day service”.

However, it has been claimed that Hunt used unpublished unverified data to make the claim and that the Department for Health had actually found that there may be as many as 11,000 deaths a year due to “the weekend effect”, with the authors pointing out that this could not be definitively linked to staffing levels.

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