Junior doctors urged to call off cynical strikes

Junior doctors urged to call off ‘cynical’ strikes

Junior doctors in England have been urged to call off “cynical” strikes later this month as experts warned that the health of patients will be “compromised” as a result of the walkout.

Health Secretary Victoria Atkins said that the Government cannot make an offer to medics during the pre-election period as she warned that the five-day walkout will cause “real harm” to patients.

It comes as the Patients Association said that the “only thing” that the strike by members of the British Medical Association (BMA) will achieve is “disruption to patient care”.

“The timing of the action, with the UK now in a pre-election period and no government for the BMA to negotiate with, means there is no possibility for talks to prevent these strikes,” the organisation said in a statement.

“The only thing the planned five-day strike at the end of June will achieve is disruption to patient care as appointments and procedures need to be rescheduled. Patients’ health will be compromised.”

It comes after junior doctors offered Prime Minister Rishi Sunak a “final chance” to avoid the fresh wave of strikes in their long-running dispute over pay.

The union offered to call off strikes, planned for five days from June 27, if they get a commitment “in writing to a detailed pathway that will restore our pay in the form of a comprehensive deal that will be implemented if you are able to form the next government”.

In response, Ms Atkins said that the “cynical” strikes “will harm patients”.

In a letter posted on X, she wrote: “You are now threatening to strike in the middle of an election campaign. This is a cynical move that will sadly cause patients awaiting treatment real harm.”

She said that it would “not be appropriate” for the Government to make an offer during the pre-election period, as set out by Cabinet Office guidance, adding: “You know this yet you have refused to call off these strikes.”

Ms Atkins said that if the Conservatives win the election they will “get back into the negotiating room immediately” and she concluded: “These strikes are harmful to patients. You must call them off”.

The BMA wrote on X: “The upcoming strikes are happening because the Government, and Victoria Atkins have never made a credible offer to our members.”

BMA junior doctors committee co-chairs Dr Robert Laurenson and Dr Vivek Trivedi said in a statement: “It is not true to say there is no possibility to prevent these strikes.

“We made very clear in our letter to the Prime Minister on Wednesday that all he has to do is commit in writing to a pathway to pay restoration, like any of his other commitments, and we would call the strikes off. This is very much within his gift.”

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