The BMA’s attempts to extend the strike mandate and continue negotiations have failed, with a five-day junior doctor strike planned for this month.
The union last week announced a strike running from 24 February to 28 February, stating that the Government had ‘failed to meet the deadline to put an improved pay offer on the table’.
It had stated it would call off the strike if NHS health leaders agree to extend the strike mandate and continue negotiations.
According to the BMA, health secretary Victoria Atkins had already declined to agree to extending the mandate.
In a letter sent to NHS Employer’s chief executive Danny Mortimer (10 February), the BMA asked the NHS leader to agree to extend the mandate to allow for further negotiations.
In the letter, BMA chair of council Professor Philip Banfield said: ‘In return for this agreement the BMA Junior Doctors Committee is prepared to cancel the planned strike action for 24th to 28th February, providing space for the government to negotiate with us during the next two weeks.’
In his response, Mr Mortimer confirmed he does ‘not have the ability to direct NHS organisations to accede to your request’.
He said: ‘NHS leaders are deeply concerned both at the fact of the action the JDC are choosing to take in late February, and also for the decision to strike for an extended period of five days. They would join me in urging the JDC to instead focus on finding a way to resume and conclude negotiations with the government.’
Commenting on the next round of strike action, NHS Confederation chief executive Matthew Taylor said: ‘It is deeply disappointing that the BMA and government have not been able to find a solution to the ongoing pay debate and as a result junior doctors will be striking again.’
He added: ‘It is even more frustrating to see fresh strikes called when during the last strike period there were some signs that common ground could be found. Five days of industrial action seems disproportionate if the BMA is serious about responding positively to the ongoing discussions with the government. We call on both sides to lay out the basis for a realistic settlement that would be satisfactory to the majority of junior doctors.’