Junior doctors could stage an indefinite walkout if Jeremy Hunt does not back down on the imposition of new contracts, leaked emails reveal.
Dr Johann Malawana, chair of the BMA’s junior doctor committee, raised the possibility of an ongoing strike along with mass resignations or recommending that trainees seek other jobs in emails seen by the Health Service Journal.
Malawana said said no further action beyond next week’s walk-outs were planned but all options were being considered, adding that the consensus from junior doctors was still to solve the problem by returning to talks with the Government.
“Let me be clear, junior doctors do not want to have to take any action,” Dr Malawana said.
“They would rather be in work, treating patients, but by refusing to get back around the table and address junior doctors’ outstanding concerns the government has left them with no alternative.
“What happens after next week’s action is entirely down to the government. No decision has yet been made about future action but junior doctors will, of course, have to consider what options are open to them if the government refuses to re-enter talks.
“The crucial message however is this; it is not too late to end this dispute and call off next week’s action entirely. For the sake of patients as well as doctors, the government must listen to concerns from all sides calling on it to lift imposition, sit down with junior doctors and end this dispute through talks.”
The contracts being extend “normal working hours” from 7am-7pm on weekdays to 7am-10pm, and include Saturday as a normal working day. It also penalises those who take time out of the profession, for example to do scientific research or to have children. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said he will forcibly impose the contracts following opposition from the medical profession.
Two walk-outs are planned on the 26 and 27 April, though junior doctors have said they would be cancelled if Hunt said he would no longer forcibly impose the contracts.