Junior Doctors To Strike On February 10, As Government Accused Of Putting 'Politics Before Patients'

Junior doctors will strike on February 10, the British Medical Association has said, as it accused the Government of putting "politics before patients".

The BMA claimed industrial action was going ahead “despite the best efforts of our negotiating team, and hours of talks facilitated by Acas”.

The union's 24-hour walk-out over contract changes will leave emergency care in place – despite initial plans for a historic full walkout. That decision follows polling which revealed very high public support for junior doctors striking as long as emergency care was not included.

Next week's action will take place from 8am on Wednesday 10 February to 8am on Thursday 11 February.

Dr Johann Malawana, the BMA's junior doctors committee chair, warned the union had been left with "no alternative".

He said: "The Government’s entrenched position in refusing to recognise Saturday working as unsocial hours, together with its continued threat to impose a contract so fiercely resisted by junior doctors across England, leaves us with no alternative but to continue with industrial action."

Junior doctors and medical students demonstrate outside the Houses of Parliament in London

Doctors walked out early in January as the first part of a rolling programme of strikes, but the BMA cancelled a second planned day of action that was due to take place on January 26.

Medics overwhelmingly voted to take action late last year by 98% on a turnout of over 70%.

They are fighting the Government's offer of an 11% rise in junior doctors' basic pay, offset by plans to cut the number of hours on a weekend for which they can claim extra money for working 'unsocial hours'.

Currently, 7pm to 7am Monday to Friday and the whole of Saturday and Sunday attract a premium rate of pay.

Under health ministers' plans, junior doctors would receive time and a half for any hours worked Monday to Sunday between 10pm and 7am, and time and a third for any hours worked between 7pm and 10pm on Saturdays and 7am and 10pm on Sundays.

They would also receive on-call availability allowances, ranging from 2% to 6% of basic pay, as well as payment for work undertaken as a result of being on-call.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is pursuing the changes to be able to deliver one of the Conservatives' key election pledges - a "truly seven-day NHS" - meaning non-urgent procedures would be available at weekends as well as on weekdays.

David Cameron has so far not ruled out imposing the contracts on junior doctors if negotiations with them fail.