‘Doctors are tired and angry’: British Medical Association to reveal strike vote result today
- British Medical Association has balloted 45,000 members in England over strike
- Union is expected to reveal if junior doctors have voted to strike to get pay rise
- Medics will stage a three-day walk out in March if they vote in favour of striking
The largest medical union is today expected to reveal junior doctors have voted to strike in pursuit of a 30 per cent pay rise.
The British Medical Association has balloted around 45,000 of its members in England, with the vote closing at midday and the result due shortly after.
It has already warned the medics will stage a three-day walkout in March – including emergency departments – if there is a Yes vote.
A junior doctor refers to anyone below the rank of consultant.
The increasingly militant union said ‘tired and angry’ medics have joined in their droves to vote for strike action, with nearly 7,000 extra signed up in recent months.
The BMA’s most senior doctor yesterday accused the Prime Minister of being ‘thoughtless and bellicose’ in his refusal to find a workable agreement with NHS staff over pay and conditions.
Speaking at a young doctors’ conference in Bristol, Professor Philip Banfield, the BMA’s chair of council, said Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Steve Barclay are ‘standing on the precipice of an historic mistake’.
The British Medical Association has already warned the medics will stage a three-day walkout in March – including emergency departments – if there is a Yes vote
He said that refusing to enter meaningful negotiations with trade unions means the Government is ‘guaranteeing escalation’, while thinking they can stay silent and wait it out is ‘reckless’.
Professor Banfield said junior doctors deserve better and are not expensive for the expertise and skills they provide. He accused the Government of ‘letting patients down’, adding: ‘All NHS staff are standing up for our patients in a system that seems to have forgotten that valuing staff and their well-being is directly linked to patient safety and better outcomes of care.’
The industrial action, which would see junior doctors refusing to work in A&E, would be the most extreme in the union’s history. Previous strikes were limited to shorter periods, and in most cases maintaining emergency care.
MPs have questioned the legitimacy of the ballot which was open to medics who joined as recently as a fortnight ago. They said the tactics left the BMA open to accusations of ‘entryism’, with some calling for changes to strike laws to prevent entry to new members once a ballot is underway.
Over the last year, the BMA’s leadership has taken an increasingly aggressive stance, with hard-left activists holding increasing sway.
The campaign on junior doctors’ pay has been led by Dr Emma Runswick, who became deputy chairman of the BMA council in July.
The former Momentum activist, who campaigned for Jeremy Corbyn as a student, has already said strikes are ‘very very likely’ to go ahead.
The BMA’s most senior doctor yesterday accused the Prime Minister of being ‘thoughtless and bellicose’ in his refusal to find a workable agreement with NHS staff over pay and conditions
Dr Runswick is part of a faction within the union called ‘Broad Left’ which derives its name from a Communist Party strategy developed after the Second World War, within a larger group, Doctors Vote, which holds influence in the BMA.
In its campaigning strategy for the BMA Council, Doctors Vote set out plans for what it called ‘entryism’ – meaning the infiltration of an organisation to subvert its policies.
It said: ‘We should encourage people to join the BMA for the purpose of voting in this election. ‘This is particularly worth asking first year medical students to do as they have free/low cost BMA membership.’
In online discussions, medics were advised ‘you can join for one month just to vote and then end your membership’.
Meanwhile, striking nurses will be paid 60 per cent more by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) than during previous walkouts, it has been revealed.
The RCN also disclosed that it has received £250,000 in donations from the public since starting its strike action for more pay in December. The union is increasing the day rate for those on the picket line from £50 to £80.
Nurses who have already gone on strike for four days will get £120 a day as the RCN dips into a £50million fighting fund before an unprecedented full 48-hour walkout on March 1.
Meanwhile, striking nurses will be paid 60 per cent more by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) than during previous walkouts, it has been revealed
Nurses who have already gone on strike for four days will get £120 a day as the RCN dips into a £50million fighting fund before an unprecedented full 48-hour walkout on March 1
To be held from 6am on March 1 to 6am on March 3 the action will also be the first time the union’s industrial action will be held across A&E, intensive care, and cancer wards which, were made exempt during previous strikes
The daily take-home pay of a nurse on the average salary of £36,000 is about £135, assuming a four-day working week. A typical nurse who took part in all six strike days, plus the two in March, could in theory claim £540 in strike pay – but will have lost £1,080.
The RCN said the move is aimed at shoring up nurses’ resolve and to undermine the Government’s strategy to ‘wait out the strikes rather than negotiate’.
The union said the decision to include emergency services, cancer care and other previously exempt services has rocked NHS managers, who are calling on the Government to settle the dispute or risk waiting times rising significantly as tens of thousands of operations are cancelled.
Hospital trusts have been told to submit a risk assessment of next month’s strikes to NHS England by midday today.
The RCN, which has called for pay rises of up to 19.2 per cent, will open talks with the NHS this week to settle how the strikes will work. It said longer strikes are possible and it could re-ballot in hospitals that did not vote for strikes last time.
The GMB union said more than 11,000 of its ambulance workers will today walk out in England and Wales, including paramedics, emergency care assistants and call handlers. Ambulance workers in the Unite union in parts of the country will also strike.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: ‘We hugely value the work of junior doctors and we have been clear that supporting and retaining the NHS workforce is one of our main priorities.
‘As part of a multi-year deal we agreed with the BMA, junior doctors’ pay has increased by a cumulative 8.2 per cent since 2019/20.
‘We also introduced a higher pay band for the most experienced staff and increased rates for night shifts.
‘The Health and Social Care Secretary has met with the BMA and other medical unions to discuss pay, conditions and workload. He’s been clear he wants to continue discussing how we can make the make the NHS a better place to work for all.’
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