Junior doctors will take part in three 48-hour strikes and will launch a judicial review against a government decision to impose a contract.
The BMA – the junior doctors’ union – said industrial action will go ahead from 9-11 March, 6-8 April, and 26-28 April. If the strikes go ahead, hundreds of operations could be cancelled, impacting patients across Sussex.
The announcement comes nearly two weeks after the government announced it would impose the new contract on junior doctors.
Until now, the BMA has held two strikes, lasting 24 hours.
Dr Johann Malawana, BMA junior doctor committee chairman, said: “In recent weeks I have heard from thousands of junior doctors across the country, and the resounding message is that they cannot and will not accept what the Government is trying to do.
“It now appears that in trying to push through these changes the Government failed to give proper consideration to the impact this contract could have on junior doctors. This is yet another example of the incompetence which the Government has demonstrated throughout its handling of this dispute.
“Imposing this contract will seriously undermine the ability of the NHS to recruit and retain junior doctors in areas of medicine with the most unsocial hours, where there are already staffing shortages. This will have a significant impact on areas such as emergency medicine, maternity care and paediatrics, to name but a few.”
The union has also announced plans to launch a judicial review into the government’s plans to impose a new contract on junior doctors.
The BMA believes it has found a legal grounds that the government may have overlooked – under the Equality Act 2010.
The union is arguing that under the act, the government must show ‘due regard’ to equalities issues. The organisation is arguing the government has failed to provide evidence of an Eqaulity Impact Assessment (EIA) taking place prior to the decision to impose the contract.
Doctors are arguing the changes – proposed to improve seven-day NHS services — will result in a pay cut and will be unsafe for patients.
The new contract proposes an 13.5 per cent rise in basic pay for junior doctors.
However, the number of hours during the week which are classed as ‘unsociable’ and therefore better paid – are being cut. This includes Saturday.
The government also proposes to scrap guaranteed pay increases, linked to time in the job, and replace them with a system where junior doctors progress through different stages in training.
The government’s former patient safety advisor, Don Berwick, said ministers should apologise to junior doctors and delay plans for the contract.
The strike action could impact patients at Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs St Richard’s and Worthing hospitals, East Sussex Healthcare Trust, which runs Eastbourne DGH and Conquest in Hastings, Surrey and Sussex Healthcare Trust, which runs East Surrey Hospital and services in Crawley Hospital and Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals Trust, which runs Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton and the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath.
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