Junior doctors propose further strikes in row over new contract


Junior doctors are proposing to go on strike for a week every month for the rest of the year as the row over a new contract being imposed on them by the Government intensifies.

Strikes took place between January and April after junior doctors failed to come to an agreement over Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt's proposals.

Earlier this month the junior doctors committee (JDC) of the British Medical Association (BMA) requested a meeting of BMA Council to authorise a "rolling programme of escalated industrial action", starting in early September.

Ellen McCourt, who chairs the JDC, said the BMA could not "stand idly by" as the date for imposition drew nearer, and that forcing a contract on doctors which they did not have confidence in would be bad for patients.

Leaked papers on the plans, seen by the Daily Mail, suggest they plan to strike from 8am to 5pm for five days in a row, with the first series of walk-outs possibly starting on September 12.

Such a move would potentially lead to the postponement of thousands of scheduled operations, and the JDC admitted there would be a "regrettable impact on patient care".

The proposals are expected to be put to senior officials at the BMA on Wednesday, who will then vote on them.

The leaked document shows the JDC calling for industrial action to take place before the Government imposes the new contract, which the papers say is to happen from October.

According to the Mail, the document says: "The proposal for Council's consideration and vote is for a rolling programme of escalated industrial action beginning with five consecutive weekdays in September (8am to 5pm, full withdrawal of labour) followed by further five-day walkouts in each month to the end of the year."

The JDC admits that the risk of patient harm "increases considerably with four full weeks of full withdrawal", adding: "The level of cancellation of procedures and patient disruption would increase dramatically."

In July, the Government announced it would impose a new contract after junior doctors and medical students voted to reject a contract brokered with the BMA.