AFTER five weeks of talks between junior doctors in England and the Government, the deadline has passed, and negotiators for the Department of Health and Social Care have not been able to put forward a credible offer to end the pay dispute.

As a result, the BMA’s junior doctors committee has unanimously voted for further strike dates in December and January.

This latest round of talks came after months of strike action, followed by weeks of delay by the Department of Health and Social Care in restarting the negotiations. The BMA’s junior doctors committee made clear that despite the delays, they wanted to reach a settlement, but even after more than a month of intense negotiations, a deal has not been reached.

BMA junior doctors committee co-chairs Dr Robert Laurenson and Dr Vivek Trivedi said: “We have been clear from the outset of these talks that we needed to move at pace and if we did not have a credible offer, we would be forced to call strikes. After five weeks of intense talks, the Government was unable to present a credible offer on pay by the deadline. Instead, we were offered an additional three per cent, unevenly spread across doctors’ grades, which would still amount to pay cuts for many doctors this year. It is clear the Government is still not prepared to address the real-terms pay cut doctors have experienced since 2008.

“It is a great shame that even though the approach was more constructive, there was not enough on offer to shape a credible deal, which we hoped would end the dispute. Without enough progress by the deadline, we have no choice but to take action that demonstrates doctors are as determined as ever in reversing their pay cuts.

“However, we can still avoid the need for these strikes. We will be ready and willing any time the Government wants to talk. If a credible offer can be presented the day before, or even during any action, these strikes can be cancelled.

“The approach from Ms Atkins and the team has been productive but ultimately that alone is not sufficient to make up for 15 years of declining pay. A year after our dispute started, we are still too far from turning the tide on plummeting pay, morale, and retention of doctors. Rather than waste more time and money and have further disruption to patient care, the Health Secretary needs to make a credible offer now.”

The strikes dates in England are from 7am on 20 December to 7am on 23 December 2023 and from 7am on 3 January to 7am on 9 January 2024.

* Source: British Medical Association