Around 98% of junior doctors have voted in favour of industrial action over the UK government’s threat to impose a new contract on them from August 2016.
A total of 37,155 junior doctor members of the British Medical Association (BMA) were balloted, representing more than two thirds of the junior doctor workforce. There were 28,316 ballot papers returned — a turnout of 76.2%. More than 99% voted in favour of industrial action short of a strike (28,120), and 98% were in favour of full strike action (27,741).
Even with such a resounding mandate, the BMA says it is keen to avert industrial action and has therefore approached Acas to offer conciliatory talks with health secretary Jeremy Hunt and NHS Employers.
Mark Porter, BMA council chair, says: “The health secretary is right when he says this action is ‘wholly avoidable’. Our message to him is that junior doctors have today made their views perfectly clear but that it is still possible to get back around the negotiating table to deliver a contract that is safe for patients, contains the necessary contractual safeguards to prevent junior doctors being overworked, and properly recognises evening and weekend work.”
Hunt said the ballot result was “regrettable” and would put patients at risk and see operations cancelled or delayed. “We hope junior doctors will consider the impact this action — especially the withdrawal of emergency care — will have on patients and reconsider.”
The BMA announced three strike days before the results of the ballot were known. Unless progress is made, junior doctors will provide emergency cover only from 8am on 1 December 2015 to 8am 2 December 2015, and there will be full strike action on 8 December 2015 and 16 December 2015 between 8am and 5pm.