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Junior doctors announce five-day strike right before the general election: 'We're fed up'

'Even at this late stage Mr Sunak has the opportunity to show that he cares about the NHS and its workers'

Junior doctors on strike.

Junior doctors in England will stage a five-day strike in the week before the general election.

British Medical Association members will walk out from 7am on 27 June to 7am on 2 July. It is the latest escalation in a long-running pay dispute with the government and will be the 11th walkout by junior doctors since March 2023.

The BMA claims that it offered the government “a final opportunity to make an offer and avoid strikes”, but that this was “not taken up”.

The union is asking for a 35% pay rise to make up for what it describes as 15 years of below-inflation pay rises.

The government gave junior doctors in England an 8.8% pay rise last summer, bringing a junior doctor’s starting salary to around £32,000. The government offered an extra 3% during the last round of negotiations, but BMA junior doctors committee co-chairs Dr Robert Laurenson and Dr Vivek Trivedi said this was not credible.

“Junior doctors are fed up and out of patience,” they said in a statement.

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“Even at this late stage Mr Sunak has the opportunity to show that he cares about the NHS and its workers. It is finally time for him to make a concrete commitment to restore doctors’ pay. If during this campaign he makes such a public commitment that is acceptable to the BMA’s junior doctors committee, then no strikes need go ahead.”

Health secretary Victoria Atkins accused the union of playing politics.

“Today should be the day the Labour Party finally condemn junior doctor strikes,” she posted on X. “Announcing this during an election and on Labour’s health day shows this was only ever political and not about patients or staff.”

Junior doctors represent nearly half the doctor workforce in the NHS. Senior consultants will be drafted in to fill the empty roles – but it will likely cause huge disruption to elective services including routine operations.

Junior doctors will also strike in Northern Ireland in early June as part of a separate pay dispute. Industrial action in Wales is on hold as talks take place, while Scottish junior doctors called off strikes after acceptin a pay offer from the government there.

Since the pandemic, consultants, nurses, and midwives have all gone on strike in England. However, they have all accepted pay offers over the past 12 months.

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