In England, junior doctors pledged to go on strike next week as the British government turned a deaf year to their complaints.
The British Medical Association (BMA), the group which advocates for medics’ rights, confirmed that a series of strikes was pending as negotiations with the government broke down once more Monday afternoon.
The BMA announced that the first strike is slated for Jan. 12, when junior doctors would only provide emergency care for 24 h. The next strike is planned for Jan. 26, when medics would provide only emergency care for 48 hours, while the third strike will hit England Feb. 10, when 45,000 junior doctors will provide no type of care between 08:00 a.m. and 05:00 p.m.
It is the first time in more than four decades that junior doctors go out on streets in such a large number. Nevertheless, the BMA announced that the strikes could be prevented if fresh talks with the government would lead to a positive result for its members.
The BMA accepted health secretary’s invitation for new negotiations at the request of the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas), which managed to prevent a major strike in December.
Negotiations have been going on for three weeks, but ended Monday with no results. The Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt has been blamed on for the strikes because he had refused to make ‘significant movement’ during negotiations.
The BMA recently apologized for the distress that will be caused by the strikes but it said that its members were left with no options. The group argued that the government’s position would harm not only junior doctors but patients and the health system, as well.
Hunt replied that the health department’s top priority is to ensure that the NHS is operational 24/7 and provides the best care. He added that the strikes would benefit no one.
The government said that it has agreed on 15 of the 16 topics proposed by the BMA. Everything was settled except for the weekend pay, authorities said. They now hope that the medics’ trade union would be more sensible in the next session of peace talks.
The trade union, the government, and NHS Employers have reached a deadlock after failed negotiations over a new contract. The BMA said that Jan. 4 would be the last day of negotiations, and if everything failed, strikes would follow.
Officials are concerned that the strikes would put an additional strain on the system since the NHS is already under a lot of pressure from an influx of new medical cases caused by the winter season.
Image Source: Flickr
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