College urges discussions to end industrial action in England

The College is calling for an urgent resolution to the pay restoration standoff in England. Following separate action by “junior” doctors and consultants over the summer,  joint and “coordinated” action has been announced over four days across September and October.

This is unprecedented and highlights the deep dissatisfaction of doctors across England.

The College is urging the UK Government and the BMA to speak together and avert any further industrial action, which is deeply disruptive to patients.

The latest announcement comes as 98 per cent of junior doctors, from a turnout of 71 per cent, voted in favour of continuing industrial action. The re-ballot result has renewed their mandate for further six months, through to 29 February, 2024.

Junior doctors have so far staged 19 days of strike action since March of this year. Following today’s re-ballot result, they have announced six further days, on 20, 21, 22 September, and 2, 3, 4 October.

The four joint days of action in September and October will see ‘Christmas Day’ levels of staffing from both sets of doctors.

Commenting, Professor Andrew Elder, President of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh said:

The fact that the majority of doctors in the NHS in England remain ready to withdraw their labour strongly underlines the continuing gravity of the current situation. It’s essential that further industrial action is averted if at all possible, and that can only happen if talks resume.

The possibility of more industrial action is concerning prospect for patients. The College’s position has been and is that such action must not jeopardise the safety of patients. We know that individual doctors have already and will continue to make their own assessments in relation to this.

Doctors of all ages and across all stages of their careers in England have clearly indicated their intense dissatisfaction with their terms of service and the effect of those terms on their workload, their wellbeing and their desire to continue to work in the NHS.

As such, the current situation has long term implications for the NHS’ ability to recruit and retain doctors.

Good will, talking and listening are key to resolving the pay restoration standoff – we urge the immediate resumption of negotiations.