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When do the junior doctors’ strikes start? When NHS staff will walk out in July 2023 and how long it will last

The British Medical Association says the Government’s current 5% pay increase offer is not ‘credible’ and has not not kept up with inflation

Junior doctors have announced their fourth and longest strike so far in a dispute over pay and working conditions.

Members of the British Medical Association (BMA) will strike between 7am on Thursday 13 July and 7am on Tuesday 18 July.

The walk out comes ahead of senior doctors belonging to the BMA staging a walk out on Thursday 20 and Friday 21 July.

i finds out all you need to know about the strikes by the workers who make up about half of all hospital doctors and a quarter of GPs.

Why are junior doctors striking?

The BMA says the current offer of a 5% pay increase is not “credible”, arguing that pay has not kept up with inflation, although the Government says the offer is “fair and reasonable”.

The Department of Health and Social Care said in a statement: “The government has been clear that strikes must be paused while talks take place, and we remain ready to continue talking at any point if strikes are called off.”

Co-chairs of the BMA junior doctors committee Dr Robert Laurenson and Dr Vivek Trivedi said: “We are announcing the longest single walkout by doctors in the NHS’s history – but this is not a record that needs to go into the history books.

“Even now the government can avert our action by coming to the table with a credible offer on pay restoration.”

Sir Julian Hartley, chief executive of NHS Providers, said: “Trust leaders, staff and patients will have that sinking feeling at the prospect of five straight days of strike disruption, the longest-ever single period of industrial action in the history of the NHS.

“After a three-day walkout by junior doctors already this month, forcing more than 100,000 more procedures and appointments to be rescheduled – more than 651,000 in total since December – and with nurses, radiographers and consultants – who could strike for two days in July – being balloted too this figure is bound to rise by many thousands more.

“Trust leaders’ priority throughout any industrial action will remain to keep patients’ safe and deliver high-quality care but this is getting tougher the longer strikes persist, and it’s getting more and more expensive to find cover for staff on picket lines.”

Senior doctors are also going on strike over what the union describes as pay cuts. The BMA says once changes to tax and pension contributions are taken into consideration, senior doctors have effectively seen a cut to take-home pay of 35% since 2008.

British Medical Association (BMA) consultants committee chair, Dr Vishal Sharma, said: “Consultants don’t want to have to take industrial action, but have been left with no option in the face of a government that continues to cut our pay year after year.”

“We’re incredibly sorry for the anxiety and disruption that will happen,” he told BBC Breakfast.

He added: “It is a sad indictment of government really as we’ve had such a long period of pay cuts and this has driven both consultants and doctors to this point, but we will do everything we can to make sure patients are kept safe.”

A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “Strikes are hugely disruptive for patients and put pressure on other NHS staff.

“We urge the BMA to carefully consider the likely impact of any action on patients.”

What about the Scottish strikes?

Strikes planned by Scottish junior doctors for next week have been suspended after BMA Scotland agreed to put an improved offer from the Scottish Government to its members.

The Scottish Government said that a record 12.4% pay increase for junior doctors and doctors in training for 2023/24 has been agreed with the BMA in Scotland.

It said that coupled with the pay raise of 4.5% awarded in 2022/23, this amounts to a cumulative increase of 17.5% over two years.

BMA Scotland said that its Scottish Junior Doctor Committee (SJDC) yesterday (8 July) agreed unanimously that it would recommend members accept the offer in a consultative vote in the coming weeks.

The union also said it will enter contract negotiations with the Scottish Government from autumn 2023 with the aim of improving the working and training conditions of junior doctors in Scotland by April 2026.

Scotland’s Health Secretary Michael Matheson said: “Following months of negotiations with BMA Scotland, I am delighted that we have agreed a pay deal for 2023/24 for our junior doctors.

“BMA have agreed to suspend strike action in Scotland while they consult with their members.

“I hope this investment and the significant commitments we have given around pay and contract reform will show junior doctors how much we value them, and that we are determined to ensure that Scotland is the place for junior doctors to work and train.

“Some patients may have been contacted to say their treatment has been cancelled.

“We are working hard with health boards to make sure appointments that can go ahead do, and that any others are rescheduled as soon as possible.”

Dr Chris Smith, chairman of the BMA’s Scottish Junior Doctor Committee, said: “This has been an intense period of negotiation with the Scottish Government.

“At this stage, our negotiating team feel they have reached the limit of what can be achieved this year and do not think strike action would result in a materially improved offer. As a result, we have agreed to suspend next week’s strikes and put this offer to our members.

“This offer commits the government to working with doctors to restore our pay and prevent pay erosion from occurring in the future.

“This is an unprecedented shift from the Scottish Government, which is a recognition of the huge decline in real-terms pay that doctors have experienced over the past 15 years, and the huge amount of work needed to undo the damage this has caused to the NHS.

“By agreeing to address the way our pay has been cut, and setting out a clear mechanism for doing so, the Government is making a serious, welcome commitment to ensuring that pay for junior doctors in Scotland is restored to a fair level.”

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