Junior doctors are escalating their strike action in the dispute over a new contract in the first full walkout of doctors during a 48-hour strike planned next month.
The British Medical Association (BMA) said the decision to withdraw all labour “follows the continued refusal by the government to step back from its decision to impose a new contract and resolve the dispute by re-entering talks”.
The move means that junior doctors will withdraw all their labour, rather than offering emergency only care during the 48-hour strike between 8am and 5pm on Tuesday April 26 and Wednesday April 27.
It will be the fifth period of industrial action by junior doctors in the current dispute.
However, other doctors and staff will continue to work during that time.
The BMA said the move was supported by 98% of doctors who voted in November in favour of industrial action.
A 48-hour strike by junior doctors scheduled from 8am on Wednesday April 6 until 8am on Friday April 8 will go ahead as planned. Emergency care will be covered during this strike.
The chairman of the junior doctors committee Dr Johann Malawana said no junior doctor wanted to take this action but the government had left them with no choice.
He said: “In refusing to lift imposition and listen to junior doctors’ outstanding concerns, the government will bear direct responsibility for the first full walkout of doctors in this country.”
He said doctors wanted to end the dispute but claimed the government was making this impossible.
“It is flatly refusing to engage with junior doctors, has done nothing to halt industrial action and is willfully ignoring the mounting chorus of concerns over its plans to impose coming from doctors, patients and senior NHS managers.”
He said the doctors regretted the disruption to their patients and said the rest of the country had taken a constructive path on doctors’ contracts and only the health secretary Jeremy Hunt has “chosen imposition over talks”.
The Department of Health said the escalation of strike action
“is both desperate and irresponsible – and will inevitably put patients in harm’s way”.
It said: “If the BMA had agreed to negotiate on Saturday pay, as they promised to do through ACAS in November, we’d have a negotiated agreement by now – instead, we had no choice but to proceed with proposals recommended and supported by NHS leaders.”