Birmingham Junior doctors to strike for five days from Friday amid pay dispute

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital and other sites will face disruption as junior doctors demand a 35% pay rise, while the Government says it is "not affordable"
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Junior doctors in Birmingham are set to go on strike again from February 24 to 28, as they seek a 35% increase in their pay

The British Medical Association (BMA), which represents the junior doctors, has not revealed how many of its members will take part in the industrial action, but said it expects a “high level of support”.

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The BMA is demanding a 35% pay rise for junior doctors. The Government has offered a 13.5% increase, but said the BMA’s demand is “not affordable” and would jeopardise patient safety.

The strike will affect non-emergency services at Birmingham University Hospitals Trust, which runs the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and other sites, along with other hospital trusts across the city. UHB has declined to comment on contingency plans throughout the strike. 

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital is one of the largest and busiest hospitals in the country, and is a regional centre for trauma, cancer, and organ transplants. It also treats military casualties.

The strike will be the second one this year, following a six-day walkout in January, which was the longest in NHS history. According to NHS England figures, the previous strike resulted in more than 113,000 appointments being postponed across England, including 504 at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust. The UHB trust saw the highest number of cancellations on Monday January 8, with 177.

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NHS leaders have warned that the impact of the strike could last for months, as the health service faces increased pressure from rising flu cases and cold weather.

NHS England’s national medical director Professor Sir Stephen Powis said: “The longest strike in NHS history has led to unprecedented disruption for patients and their families, and while staff have planned extensively and worked tirelessly to keep patients safe, it comes once again with an enormous cost.”

He added that the actual number of postponed appointments is likely higher than the 113,000 recorded, and that staff who have been covering for striking colleagues are under “incredible strain”.

“Colleagues across the NHS will now be doing everything they can to make up for lost time as we continue to make progress on addressing the elective backlog and ensure patients get the care they need,” he said.

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Sir Julian Hartley, chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents NHS trusts, urged the Government and the BMA to “sit down and talk to find a way to stop this dispute dragging on”.

Louise Ansari, chief executive of Healthwatch England, which represents patients, said people need to be protected from “yet another year of disrupted services and risks to their health. We are urging the Government and the BMA to redouble their efforts to reach an agreement,” she said.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: "Despite the significant pressure, the healthcare system has coped well thanks to the hard work of consultants, nurses and other healthcare staff who worked during industrial action. The strikes may have ended, but their repercussions will be felt for weeks and months to come.

“We want to put an end to damaging strikes once and for all, and if the BMA junior doctors’ committee can demonstrate they have reasonable expectations, we will still sit down with them.”

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