A second day of industrial action by junior doctors in England is set to go ahead after contract talks ended without agreement.
The proposed walkout is due to take place on Wednesday 10 February from 8am. Junior doctors will provide emergency care-only cover until 8am on Thursday 11 February.
The decision to launch the second of three planned strikes comes after talks between the British Medical Association (BMA), NHS Employers and the Department of Health failed to reach a consensus on the issue of unsocial hours.
BMA junior doctors’ committee chair Johann Malawana said: “Over the past few weeks, we have welcomed the involvement of Sir David Dalton in talks about a new junior doctor contract, which recognises the need to protect patient care and doctors’ working lives.
“His understanding of the realities of a health service buckling under mounting pressures and commitment to reaching a fair agreement has resulted in good progress on a number of issues. It is, therefore, particularly frustrating that the Government is still digging in its heels.”
Junior doctors are taking the action over the Government’s wishes to impose a seven-day contract and its alleged failure to address concerns over weekend pay and contractual safeguards to protect doctors from being overworked. The Government argues that the current arrangements are outdated and that changes are needed to improve standards of weekend care.
Mr Malawana said: “The Government misrepresents junior doctors as a block to a seven-day NHS, but they already work every day of the week. What we are asking is that this is reflected in fair and affordable recognition of unsocial hours.”
Doctors’ groups believe the Government is removing safeguards that prevent junior doctors from being forced to work excessively long hours, measures they believe are a significant threat to patient care as they could potentially leave doctors too exhausted to make lifesaving decisions with a clear mind.
Although doctors feel that they have been left with no alternative than to strike, it is obviously absolutely vital that patients who require urgent surgery and emergency care are not subjected to any undue risk during the action.