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NHS's first 'all out' strike still a threat, warn junior doctors

Junior doctors have warned the threat of the first "all out" strike in NHS history still looms large - despite a walkout being called off earlier this week.

The British Medical Association (BMA) suspended its walkout at the 11th hour on Monday night following "five days of frantic talks" with the Government.

But Dr Yannis Gourtsoyannis, from the BMA Junior Doctors Committee, warned the dispute "is not over by a long shot".

He told The People's Assembly in London: "Some concessions have definitely been made by the Government, but we are very, very far from achieving our core demands.

"The whole situation is like a state of suspended animation.

"There is a very strong possibility that a trigger for the first full walkout in the NHS's history will occur at some point in December or January. This is not over by a long shot."

Some 98% of junior doctors balloted by the BMA voted for the strike action.

Dr Gourtsoyannis, a speciality registrar in infectious diseases in London, said a victory for junior doctors would be the "first crack in the entire edifice of austerity".

He told the Assembly in central London: "We know that the Conservatives have no intrinsic, ethical respect of our mandate of 98%.

"They fear what it represents - the threat of a full walkout by doctors. The stakes are huge.

"A victory for the junior doctors would be the first crack in the entire edifice of austerity in the UK.

"The Government know this and they are going to come after us with everything they have got."

Ministers have drawn up plans to change doctors' contracts and indicated these will be imposed in England next year.

Under the proposed changes, junior doctors will get an increase in their basic pay.

But they will have to work more weekends while guaranteed pay rises linked to time in the job will be axed and bonus pay for working unsociable hours will be curbed.


From Belfast Telegraph