The junior doctors latest strike has been described by heath officials as “irresponsible and disproportionate” by health officials.
Junior doctors at hospitals across England are taking to the picket lines in the two days of action from 8am to 5pm today (Wednesday April 6) and tomorrow (Thursday April 7) in their dispute over their new contracts.
The Department of Health (DH) said the strike was “irresponsible and disproportionate.”
It said 25,000 operations have been cancelled to date during the dispute and patients were suffering.
An estimated 5,000 operations have been cancelled during this fourth round of industrial action.
It said: “If the British Medical Association (BMA) had agreed to negotiate on Saturday pay as they agreed to do through ACAS in November we’d have a negotiated agreement by now.”
It urged doctors to look at the contract and call on the BMA to end its industrial action.
NHS England said it would do everything it could to ensure “safe emergency care is being provided and to minimise the impact of the action.”
Dr Anne Rainsberry, national incident director for NHS England, said: “We’ve already seen that a 48-hour strike puts considerably more pressure on the NHS and it’s deeply regrettable that 1000s of patients are still facing disruption because of this recurring action.”
The BMA has launched a judicial review challenging the legality of health secretary Jeremy Hunt’s decision to impose the contract.
Johann Malawana, who chairs the junior doctors committee of the BMA said: “Instead of meaningfully negotiating with the BMA to reach an agreement that would be in the best interest of patients, junior doctors and the NHS, the Government walked away, rejecting a fair and affordable offer by the BMA.”
He claimed on Twitter today (Wednesday) that the government had made no attempt to avert this latest walk-out.
The dispute is due to escalate later this month with an all out 48-hour strike between 8am and 5pm on Tuesday April 26 and Wednesday April 27.
Emergency cover will be provided by senior staff.
Cast members from the hit Channel 4 medical comedy Green Wing were due to visit Northwick Park Hospital in north London where they filmed the show to support junior doctors.
Actor Stephen Mangan who played anaesthetist Guy in the series tweeted that he was due to be joined by Julian Rhind-Tutt, who played surgeon Mac, Tamsin Greig who played registrar Caroline, Oliver Chris who was student doctor Boyce and Pippa Haywood who took the role of the fictional hospital’s HR director Joanna.
NHS Employers have published the new contract, which comes into force in August, together with resources for employers. Click here to view the contact