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Junior doctors overwhelmingly vote for six more months of strikes in pay dispute

Junior doctors in England have voted by 98 per cent to continue taking industrial action for a further six months in their long-running pay dispute, the BMA announced.

A total of 33,869 junior doctors voted on a turnout of 62 per cent. The new mandate for strike action runs until 19 September.

There have already been 10 walkouts by junior doctors since the first round of industrial action in March last year over an ongoing row with the government over pay and conditions.

Junior doctors have asked for a pay rise of 35 per cent - a request described by ministers as unreasonable and unaffordable.

Junior doctors are striking over pay (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
Junior doctors are striking over pay (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Dr Robert Laurenson and Dr Vivek Trivedi, junior doctor committee co-chairs, called on the health secretary to come forward with a new offer “as soon as possible”.

“It has now been a year since we began strike action”, they said in a statement.

“That is a year of too many strikes. The government believed it could ignore, delay, and offer excuses long enough that we would simply give up.”

They added: “We ask the health secretary to come forward as soon as possible with a new offer - and make sure not a single further strike day need be called.”

Junior doctors, who make up about half of the NHS workforce, have received a pay rise averaging nearly 9 per cent this financial year.

But the BMA has been asking for 35 per cent “pay restoration” as its starting position, but has said it is willing to negotiate.

The BMA argues that a 35 per cent hike would make up for what it said was 15 years of below inflation pay rises.

Health secretary Victoria Atkins (AFP via Getty Images)
Health secretary Victoria Atkins (AFP via Getty Images)

Victoria Atkins, the health secretary, said she wanted to find a “reasonable solution” to end the strike action when junior doctors rejecred a pay offer in February.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “It is disappointing that BMA members have once again voted for industrial action, when we have already given junior doctors a pay rise of up to 10.3 per cent this financial year and made clear in previous negotiations that further investment was available.

“Overall NHS waiting lists have decreased for four months in a row, but further strikes will impede this progress, and more than 1.4 million appointments and operations have now been rescheduled since industrial action began.

“We again urge the BMA Junior Doctors’ Committee to demonstrate they have reasonable expectations so we can come back to the negotiating table to find a fair deal that works for the NHS, doctors and patients.”