More than three quarters of junior doctors failed to turn up to work on the second day of their all out strike in the dispute over the new contract, NHS England said.
It said 78% of junior doctors who were expected to work today did not report for duty and withdrew all services, including emergency cover, for the first time in the history of the NHS.
Yesterday also saw a 78% rate of no shows, with 21,608 junior doctors staying away from work.
It said this was down on the 88% of doctors who did not turn up during the last industrial action on 6 April to 8 April.
The BMA’s junior doctors chairman Johann Malawana called for the government to sit down and talk while David Cameron said the strike was unjustified.
Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron called on Cameron to take charge of dealing with the stalemate between the government and the BMA. He suggested that former Coalition health minister Norman Lamb (pictured) could act as a broker.
Nursing in Practice’s editorial board member Marilyn Eveleigh said nurses would be watching the dispute with interest.
She said they have not had a pay rise for a long time and “there are droves leaving because of poor pay.”
Changes in working could affect other employees including porters and diagnostics staff, she said.
However she thought the dispute “will fizzle out. I think it will lose public support.”
Comedian Sue Perkins joined the picket line at the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead, north London, while former speaker of the House of Commons Dame Betty Boothroyd was at the Royal Brompton Hospital in London. Film-maker Louis Theroux also lent his support.
However the chief executive of East Lancashire Hospitals Trust said that the impact of five days of industrial action was being felt.
“The strain is starting to tell with the level of activity that we have had to cancel over the previous strikes and this one.”
NHS England’s national incident director Dr Anne Rainsberry said: ‘The NHS is open for business but in some places may be under specific pressure.”
She called on the public to use it wisely during “this very challenging time.”
Junior doctor and BMA representative Dr Andrew Collier told BBC Breakfast: “I never imagined in my working life we would see the kind of action that has been undertaken and that shows how wronged doctors and the public have been in imposing this contract.”