BMA faces revolt within its own ranks after talk of ‘indefinite walkouts’ from junior doctors which could put patients at risk
The British Medical Association faces a revolt within its ranks after talking of ‘indefinite walkouts’ from junior doctors, putting patients at risk.
With the next four-day walkout due on Friday, Dr Vivek Trivedi, co-chair of the BMA junior doctors committee, has said action without an end in sight is ‘on the table’.
Many doctors are unhappy that the continuing saga is threatening to put more patients at risk and dilute public support. And one has said the union is balloting members without specifying the action being offered.
During a private video call, seen by the Daily Mail, Dr Trivedi told members: ‘I would love it if we would all be able to take indefinite strike action, but the reality is that we wouldn’t be able to bring everyone along with us. Would we be able to bring enough people along with us? That’s something we need to be discussing with our colleagues, but it is something that we have considered and would be on the table. Stay tuned.’
But one doctor on the call, who asked to remain anonymous, said: ‘I know for a fact that during the last strike many departments had to run under their safe operating staffing numbers, and the BMA choose weekends to limit the impact on doctors and maximise the impact on patients. It’s criminal.’
Striking NHS junior doctors on the picket line outside Leicester Royal Infirmary
Regarding balloting, they said: ‘Those who are currently voting for action should know what they are voting for.’
Analysis from the Department of Health shows that strike participation has dropped by more than a quarter since walkouts began in the spring.
Dr Trivedi has previously said this data was ‘unreliable’.
But responding to the prospect of ‘indefinite walkouts’, he last night said: ‘The BMA’s junior doctors committee are serious about reversing the more than 31 per cent pay cut the Government has imposed on us over the last 15 years, and to ensure doctors are paid fairly, a mere £20 per hour instead of their current £14 per hour.
‘We are considering all viable options to achieve this, to stem the flow of doctors to places like Australia and New Zealand, and will be led by our members. As it stands, we have not called for any further industrial action after August and, as with all our strikes so far, patient safety is a paramount consideration.
‘It’s important to remember that we never need to strike again if the UK Government rejoin talks meaningfully and put forward a credible offer.’
Data from NHS England shows that 101,977 of acute inpatient and outpatient appointments were cancelled during the unprecedented five-day walkout last month.
Professor Sir Stephen Powis, NHS national medical director, said: ‘We are fast approaching three quarters of a million appointments rescheduled in the last eight months due to strikes, we are continuing to see a massive cumulative impact on NHS services and our hard-working staff as they do all they can to maintain safe patient services while tackling a record backlog.’
Co-chairs of the BMA’s junior doctors’ committee Vivek Trivedi (left) and Rob Laurenson speak to the media outside the Department Of Health And Social Care
As it stands, the BMA can only legally strike until late August, when its current mandate runs out. The union is re-balloting to extend this until February 2024.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: ‘Further strikes will cause more disruption for patients and benefit no one. We’re giving doctors in training a fair and reasonable pay rise, as recommended by the independent pay review body, with an average increase of around 8.8 per cent, which is above what most in the public and private sectors are receiving.
‘This is expected to increase average pay for NHS doctors in training by £3,800.’