BMA press releases archive

Junior doctors vote overwhelmingly for industrial action as BMA approaches Acas for conciliatory talks with the health secretary

(issued Thursday 19 Nov 2015)

Junior doctors vote overwhelmingly for industrial action as BMA approaches Acas for conciliatory talks with the health secretary

Junior doctors have today overwhelmingly voted in favour of taking industrial action after the government’s threat to impose a new junior doctor contract in England from August next year.

Following a ballot of more than 37,000 junior doctors in England, more than 99 per cent have voted in favour of industrial action short of a strike, and 98 per cent for full strike action1, demonstrating the strength of feeling amongst the profession.

While the BMA regrets the inevitable disruption that this will cause, junior doctors have clearly been left with no alternative due to the government’s continued threat to impose a contract that is unsafe for patients and unfair for doctors.

Even now and with such a resounding mandate, we are keen to avert the need for industrial action and have therefore 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.

If industrial action goes ahead, it is important to remember that other doctors and NHS staff will continue to provide high-quality patient care. As previously announced, we have released the dates of proposed action well in advance to allow employers to put in place plans to minimise disruption to staff and, above all, to patients2.

Commenting, Dr Mark Porter, BMA council chair, said:

“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.

“The health secretary is right when he says this action is ‘wholly avoidable’3. Our message to him is that junior doctors have today made their views perfectly clear but that it is still possible to get back around the negotiating table to deliver a contract that is safe for patients, contains the necessary contractual safeguards to prevent junior doctors being overworked and properly recognises evening and weekend work.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors

1 Results of ballot
Question 1
Are you prepared to take part in industrial action short of a strike?


Result of voting
Number of ballot papers returned:28,316
Number of papers found to be spoilt:17
Total number of papers counted:28,299

Number voting YES 28,120 (99.4% of valid vote)
Number voting NO 179 (0.6% of valid vote)

Total 28,299 (100% of valid vote)
Turnout: 76.2%

Question 2
Are you prepared to take part in strike action?

Result of voting
Number of ballot papers returned:28,316
Number of papers found to be spoilt:11
Total number of papers counted:28,305

Number voting YES 27,741 (98% of valid vote)
Number voting NO 564 (2% of valid vote)

Total 28,305 (100% of valid vote)
Turnout: 76.2%

A total of 37,155 members were balloted

2The dates and type of action that junior doctors will be called on to take are:
    Emergency care only – 8am, Tuesday 1 December to 8am, Wednesday 2 December 2015
    Full withdrawal of labour – 8am to 5pm, Tuesday 8 December 2015
    Full withdrawal of labour – 8am to 5pm, Wednesday 16 December 2015

3Hansard, Tuesday 17 November http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/hansard/commons/todays-commons-debates/read/unknown/9/

More information on the key issues and why the BMA is balloting junior doctors on industrial action is available here.

The British Medical Association (BMA) is the voice of doctors and medical students in the UK. We are an apolitical professional organisation and independent trade union, representing doctors and medical students from all branches of medicine across the UK and supporting them to deliver the highest standards of care

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