Junior doctors in England have voted in favour of industrial action over changes to their contracts, including pay and working hours.
Some 99% of the 76% of junior doctors who took part in the ballot are prepared to take industrial action short of a strike, while 98% are prepared to take industrial action that includes a strike.
Two full walk-outs have been proposed from 8am to 5pm on 8 and 16 December. Industrial action is also proposed for 8am on 1 December until 8am on 2 December that would follow an emergency care only model. This would see junior doctors provide the same level of service that happens in their given speciality, hospital or GP practice on Christmas Day.
The British Medical Association (BMA) has approached the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) to offer conciliatory talks with health secretary Jeremy Hunt and NHS Employers.
Jeremy Hunt, health secretary, said: “It is regrettable that junior doctors have voted for industrial action which will put patients at risk and see operations cancelled or delayed. We want to ensure patients have the same quality of care across the week, and have put forward a generous offer that increases basic pay by 11% and reduces doctors’ hours.
“We hope junior doctors will consider the impact this action, especially the withdrawal of emergency care, will have on patients and reconsider.”
Mark Porter, council chair at The British Medical Association, added: “We regret the inevitable disruption that this will cause but it is the government’s adamant insistence on imposing a contract that is unsafe for patients in the future, and unfair for doctors now and in the future, that has brought us to this point.
“Patients are doctors’ first priority, which is why, even with such a resounding mandate, we are keen to avert the need for industrial action, which is why we have approached ACAS to offer conciliatory talks with the health secretary and NHS Employers to clarify the conflicting information coming from government over the past weeks.”