Junior doctors’ strike: Why are they walking out again in June?

·3-min read

Junior doctors in England are set to strike for three days in June amid an ongoing dispute over pay.

The British Medical Association (BMA) announced the 72-hours strike in response to the Government’s “paltry” five per cent pay increase offer.

“The Government know this is not a credible offer, it’s a delaying tactic. They’ve left us with no option but to return to the picket lines,” said the junior doctors' group on Twitter, “When ministers are ready to address pay restoration and make a credible offer, we’ll be ready to talk. They can end this dispute tomorrow.”

But why are junior doctors in the NHS striking and will further industrial action take place?

When are junior doctors going on strike?

Members of the BMA will strike from 6.59am on June 14 until 7am on June 17.

They previously went on strike for four days in April, when nearly 200,000 hospital appointments and procedures in England had to be rescheduled.

Junior doctors previously walked out for three consecutive days from March 13, causing more than 175,000 operations and procedures to be cancelled.

Whittington Health NHS Trust said it had made the “difficult decision” to reschedule all non-emergency procedures and outpatient appointments to ensure enough staff are available to provide emergency care.

The Trust runs the Whittington Hospital in Archway as well as community services across Haringey, Islington and Camden.

Why are junior doctors striking?

The BMA’s more than 36,000 members said they had taken the decision to strike because they feel “overworked and undervalued”. They want a new pay increase of 35 per cent to make up for inflation in the past 15 years, which has cut their earnings by 26 per cent.

The Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association (HCSA) union is striking over junior doctors being “taken for granted”.

HCSA president Dr Naru Narayanan said: “Junior doctors have held together patient care amid a spiralling staffing crisis. In return for this huge emotional, mental, and physical toll, they’ve been subjected to a decade of real-terms pay cuts totalling over 26 per cent. Enough is enough.

“Our NHS is in an intolerable situation and junior doctors will not be taken for granted any more. They are taking decisive action for their patients and for their own wellbeing. Falling pay, increasing workloads and dangerous levels of understaffing have driven carers across the NHS to strike. The blame for this lies solely with a complacent government, seemingly content to let patient care suffer.”

Dr Narayanan said “the ball is firmly in the Government’s court” and that “it must act now to negotiate a proper pay increase as part of a wider funding package for the NHS”.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We hugely value the work of junior doctors and we have been clear that supporting and retaining the NHS workforce is one of our main priorities. As part of a multi-year deal we agreed with the BMA, junior doctors’ pay has increased by a cumulative 8.2 per cent since 2019/20. We also introduced a higher pay band for the most experienced staff and increased rates for night shifts.

“The Health and Social Care Secretary has met with the BMA and other medical unions to discuss pay, conditions and workload. He’s been clear he wants to continue discussing how we can make the NHS a better place to work for all.”