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JUNIOR doctors hit back today after the head of NHS England appeared to blame their latest strike announcement for putting patient care at risk.
Amanda Pritchard said the British Medical Association (BMA) walkouts will have an “inevitable” impact on patient care and were at the top of the health service’s “worry list.”
She told an NHS England boarding meeting: “This news is obviously incredibly disappointing for everyone involved.
“Our immediate focus is to support the NHS to plan to respond to the action and to discuss with the BMA how to best reduce the risk of harm to patients.
“We absolutely cannot have a winter like last year — the worst of my own career — and clearly strikes will make this even harder.”
The BMA has announced a three-day strike before Christmas and six days in January in England — the longest in NHS history — after talks with the government to resolve the 14-month pay dispute broke down.
It said an offer of a 3 per cent rise on top of the average 8.8 per cent increase they were given in the summer would be split unevenly across different doctor grades and would “still amount to pay cuts for many doctors.”
Today BMA junior doctors committee co-chairs Dr Rob Laurenson and Dr Vivek Trivedi said: “We are ready, as ever, to work towards bringing this dispute to an end but when we reached our mutually agreed deadline, and the pay offer on the table would have seen a large cohort of doctors still receive a pay cut this year, it was clear we hadn’t made enough progress.
“The government can still avoid the need for these strikes: we will be ready and willing any time they want to talk. If a credible offer can be presented the day before, or even during any action, these strikes can be cancelled.
“Every winter we raise the alarm about the NHS and every winter the government fails to put the necessary investment into staff to prevent the crisis — now is the time to break the trend.”
Dr John Puntis, co-chair of Keep Our NHS Public, said: “Ms Pritchard’s comments targeting doctors are disappointing and unhelpful when chronic underfunding continues to erode the NHS, harming both patients and the broader economy, and is driving strikes by underpaid and undervalued health workers.
“It is crucial that negotiations with the junior doctors are reopened by a credible offer coming from government.”
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