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JUNIOR doctors are to escalate their industrial action for better pay by launching fresh strikes later this month, their union announced today.
Thousands of medics across England will walk out from 7am on February 24 until 11.59pm on February 28, the British Medical Association (BMA) said.
The walkout comes after junior doctors staged the longest strike in NHS history, spanning six days in January.
The BMA said that the government has since failed to meet the deadline to put an improved pay offer on the table and that the “glacial speed” of progress has become “frustrating and incomprehensible.”
BMA junior doctors committee co-chairs Dr Robert Laurenson and Dr Vivek Trivedi said in a statement: “We have made every effort to work with the government in finding a fair solution to this dispute while trying to avoid strike action.
“Even today, we were willing to delay further strike action in exchange for a short extension of our current strike mandate.
“Had the Health Secretary agreed to this, an act of good faith on both sides, talks could have gone ahead without more strikes.
“Sadly, the government declined.”
The BMA said that the fresh round of strikes would be the last on their current mandate with members however they “are already balloting for six months more.”
It said: “From the very start of the industrial action, we have been clear that there is no need for strike action as long as substantial progress is made, and we remain willing to carry on talking and to cancel the forthcoming strikes if significant progress is made and a credible offer is put forward.”
Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting accused Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of “personally blocking a deal with the junior doctors.”
NHS Providers chief executive Sir Julian Hartley urged politicians and unions to “get back to serious talks which can address doctors’ concerns, resolve the dispute and prevent more strikes.”
The doctors say that they have seen their pay decline by 35 per cent since 2008-2009 and are demanding a pay deal in keeping with inflation.
The BMA say Health and Social Care Secretary Victoria Atkins has failed to come to negotiations.
Ms Atkins said: “I want to find a reasonable solution that ends strike action.
“This action called by the BMA junior doctor committee does not signal that they are ready to be reasonable.”
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