Strike dates announced in junior doctors’ dispute

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The days when junior doctors could go on strike in protest at changes to their contracts have been announced.

Subject to a strike ballot, a 24-hour walk-out from 8am on December 1 would involve all junior doctors except those who are on call to provide emergency cover.

Then two full strikes are planned from 8am-5pm on Tuesday, December 8, and from 8am-5pm Wednesday, December 16.

The British Medical Association (BMA) said it had taken the “extraordinary” step of announcing strike dates before the ballot closes on November 18 to minimise the impact on patients.

In an e-mail to BMA members in England, chairman Mark Porter said: “We are releasing this information at this early stage because we want to give as much notice as possible.

“It sounds like an oxymoron when talking about industrial action, but we genuinely want to minimise any disruption to other NHS staff and, above all, to patients.

“Our dispute is with the government and our ballot for industrial action is a last resort in the face of their continued intransigence.”

Thousands of medics protested in Leeds on October 28 against controversial changes they fear would lead to longer hours and reduced pay.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has claimed junior doctors would get an 11 per cent pay rise. But the measures would cut back on payments for working unsociable hours and actually cut pay, the BMA argued.

Mr Hunt was also accused by the BMA of trying to “gloss over the truth” by claiming no junior doctor would have their pay cut.