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Junior doctors to strike for 5 days in July in longest single walkout in NHS history

Junior doctors in England have announced they will go on a five-day strike next month in what is thought to be the longest single period of industrial action they have taken in the history of the health service.

The industrial action, which will lead to hundreds of thousands of appointments and operations being postponed, will take place between 0700 on Thursday 13 July and 0700 on Tuesday 18 July, the British Medical Association (BMA) said. It is the fourth round of action junior doctors have taken in their pay dispute with the Government.

The BMA is seeking pay restoration to 2008-9 levels after years of real-terms cuts. Achieving that aim would require a 35.3 per cent pay rise, which the Government says is unaffordable and unrealistic.

It comes as a BMA survey shows that junior doctors report being inundated with more opportunities to move abroad in the last four months than ever before with 53 per cent saying they have received more job advertisements from recruiters to overseas jobs since strikes were announced. The government of South Australia paid for trucks to be sent to junior doctor picket lines carrying job adverts offering improved pay if those doctors emigrated, the BMA said.

The same survey of nearly 2,000 medics showed junior doctors feeling that their patients are behind them in their fight for fair pay, with 82 per cent reporting they had found their patients supportive of industrial action.

Co-chairs of the BMA junior doctors committee, Dr Robert Laurenson and Dr Vivek Trivedi, said: “The NHS is one of this country’s proudest achievements and it is shameful that we have a Government seemingly content to let it decline to the point of collapse with decades of real-terms pay cuts to doctors driving them away. With the 75th birthday of the NHS just days away, neglect of its workforce has left us with 7.4 million people on waiting lists for surgery and procedures, 8,500 unfilled doctors’ posts in hospitals, and doctors who can barely walk down the road without a foreign government tempting them to leave an NHS where they are paid £14 per hour for a country which will pay them properly.

“It has been almost a week since the last round of strikes finished but not once have we heard from Rishi Sunak or Steve Barclay in terms of reopening negotiations since their collapse of our talks and cancelling all scheduled meetings a month ago. What better indication of how committed they are to ending this dispute could we have? As their refusal to even discuss pay restoration leads to continued disruption to the health service, more than four-fifths of junior doctors report finding their patients supportive – they understand the value of a fully staffed and resourced NHS.

“We are announcing the longest single walkout by doctors in the NHS’s history – but this is not a record that needs to go into the history books. Even now the Government can avert our action by coming to the table with a credible offer on pay restoration. Restoring pay can stem the flow of Australian job adverts in doctors’ social media feeds – and lead to a future 75 years of doctors being paid fairly, in a rebuilt workforce and NHS that this country can continue to be proud of.”

This story is being updated.

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