Latest statement from JDC chair Ellen McCourt

Over the past few days we have been described as radical, we have been described as militant, we have been described as prioritising ourselves over our patient’s safety.

This is not true.

Patient safety remains doctors’ primary concern. For the first time in this dispute NHS England have told us that a service under such pressure cannot cope with the notice period for industrial action given. Our hospitals are chronically under staffed. Our NHS is desperately underfunded. We have to listen to our colleagues when they tell us that they need more time to keep patients safe.

We have also listened to the concerns of working doctors, patient groups and the public. Thousands of you have been in touch, your level of anger over the Secretary of State’s imposed contract remains high, but at the same time you want to keep your patients safe during industrial action.

The BMA is therefore suspending the industrial action planned for the week of 12 September. The remaining programme of industrial action stays in place.

This does not absolve the Secretary of State. He continues to ignore our request to stop the imposition. He continues to force upon junior doctors a contract that discriminates against carers, parents, doctors with disabilities and women, a contract that devalues our time and a contract that disincentives careers in our most struggling specialties. He continues to strive towards an uncosted, unfunded, unstaffed extended seven day service. He continues to disregard the concerns junior doctors have about staffing shortages and patient safety.

Future action is, however, still avoidable. The BMA has repeatedly said that it will call off further action if the Secretary of State stops his imposition of the contract, listen to the concerns of junior doctors, and works with us to negotiate a contract, based upon fresh agreed principles, that has the confidence of junior doctors.

There are four weeks until October. The Secretary of State must use this time to listen and act.

Further industrial action confirmed

During a special meeting of the BMA Council, it has been decided that junior doctors in England will take further industrial action.

We believe that progress was made during talks in May, so we are calling for the government to lift the imposition and restart meaningful talks to agree a contract that is adequately funded, fit for purpose, delivers for patients and has the confidence of the profession.

Despite our efforts to work with the Secretary of State to resolve this dispute, the Government has failed to listen, leaving us with no option but to take more industrial action.

Junior doctors will stage a full withdrawal of labour for five days, between the hours of 8am and 5pm during the following periods:

  • 5, 6 and 7 October (weekend covered) and then 10 – 11 October
  • 14 – 18 November
  • 5 – 9 December

Full withdrawal of labour for junior doctors – new guidance (September 2016)

Full withdrawal of labour for non-junior doctors – new guidance (September 2016)

Read the joint letter from NHS employers and the BMA on the escalation of strike action

New FAQs covering industrial action will be published shortly.

Read the press release

Read the news story


Order campaign materials

The following campaign materials are available for BMA members to order.

  • I support junior doctors stickers – 20 sheets maximum
  • I support junior doctors badges – 40 maximum
  • Public information leaflets – 100 maximum
  • Guide to safe picketing – two maximum

Order campaign materials now

NHS Employers – final terms and conditions

On 6 July NHS Employers released the final terms and conditions of service for junior doctors in England.

Check the NHS Employers website

UPDATED – FAQs on the new contract

We understand many of you will have questions about the new contract and what it will mean for you so we have produced a set of FAQs to help break it down.

Read the FAQs on the new contract

Why junior doctors are taking industrial action

The current industrial action comes after several years of discussions with the Government about a new contract for junior doctors. There have been consistent concerns about the safety and fairness of the proposals, concerns which we continue to hold.

In 2015, the DDRB, an independent body, undertook a review and provided recommendations for a new contract. When surveyed our members told us they overwhelmingly found these recommendations to be ‘unacceptable’. The BMA could not agree to negotiations with these recommendations as the basis, and the Government said they would impose a new contract from August 2016.

In September, the BMA’s junior doctors committee decided to ballot junior doctor members on support for industrial action. The result of the ballot of more than 37,000 junior doctors in England was announced on 19 November, with more than 99 per cent having voted in favour of industrial action short of a strike, and 98 per cent for full strike action, demonstrating the strength of feeling amongst the profession.

Initially strike action was suspended as negotiations started following talks facilitated by Acas. Some progress was made, but no agreement was reached on several areas of critical importance to junior doctors, and the offer that Government made on 4 January was still not acceptable to the BMA. As a result, industrial action went ahead in January with juniors withdrawing their labour and providing only emergency care.

Negotiations continued, but despite the best efforts of the BMA negotiating team, major sticking points remained. In February the secretary of state for health confirmed his intention to impose a contract, publishing the final terms and conditions at the end of March. Following the BMA’s efforts in negotiations and the attention to equalities issues brought by our judicial review, the final TCS has some improvements on previous offers – but the fact remains that the final contract would be unsafe and unfair for junior doctors.

This is why the junior doctors committee took the difficult decision to escalate action planned for April to a full withdrawal of labour. No junior doctor wants to strike, but the government is pressing ahead with the imposition of a contract that was not agreed with junior doctors.

Information for the public

The junior doctors dispute – in their own words

Few people choose medicine for the glory and the riches. Far more likely is the opportunity to make a difference, to help people – but just because, for most, this is a vocation, that isn’t an invitation to undervalue what they do.

While politicians and commentators may try and portray the junior doctors dispute as being all about money, doctors themselves are clear that it’s more fundamental than that: it’s about valuing what they do – and what they have to sacrifice to do it.

Here, they explain it in their own words.

The story so far

Key dates as the junior contract negotiations have unfolded:

  • July 2013 – UK Junior Doctors Committee agreed to enter formal negotiations.
  • October 2013 – Department of Health grants NHS Employers a mandate to negotiate with the BMA, formal negotiations commence.
  • October 2014 – Talks stalled in light of the Government’s failure to agree measures to ensure patient safety and doctors’ welfare.
  • December 2014 – The BMA submitted evidence to DDRB.
  • March 2015 – DDRB invited stakeholders to give evidence.
  • July 2015 – DDRB submitted its final report to the Government.
  • August 2015 – Junior Doctors Committee decided not to re-enter contract negotiations based on the Government’s preconditions and threat of contract imposition.
  • September 2015 – The BMA voted to ballot junior members in England for industrial action.
  • November 2015 – In a turnout of 76.2 per cent, junior doctors voted overwhelmingly for industrial action.
  • November 2015 – Temporary suspension of industrial action by the BMA following talks with NHS Employers and the Department of Health, brokered by Acas
  • December 2015 – Industrial action in England was suspended following conciliatory talks with NHS Employers and the Department of Health.
  • December 2015 – BMA Junior Doctors Committee negotiating team entered negotiations with NHS Employers and Department of Health.
  • January 2016 – Talks concluded with no resolution. Industrial action took place on 12 January, but action planned for 26-28 January is suspended while talks resume.
  • February 2016 –No agreement between the BMA, NHS Employers and the Department of Health. Industrial action (emergency care only) goes ahead on 10 February.
  • March 2016 – Industrial action (emergency care only) on 9 and 10 March.
  • April 2016 – Industrial action (emergency care only) on 6 and 7 April.
  • April 2016 – BMA sets out clear offer to the Secretary of State:  lift imposition and industrial action (full withdrawal of labour) will be called off.  Secretary of State dismisses BMA offer and industrial action due to take place on 26th and 27th April.
  • May 2016 – BMA re-enter talks with the Government.
  • May 2016 – A joint agreement on a new contract is announced.
  • July 2016 –  Junior doctors and medical students across England voted to reject the Government’s proposed new contract.
  • August 2016 – Junior doctors committee met on Thursday 11 August and voted to reject the proposed new contract in full and to call for formal re-negotiations on all concerns.

Junior doctors in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales

Northern Ireland

The Northern Ireland health minister, Simon Hamilton, has said he has “no desire” to impose the junior doctor contract and an imposed contract would be the “worst possible outcome”. He has said he would like to develop a “tailored solution” for junior doctors in Northern Ireland. BMA will be meeting with the Minister to discuss how we can work together to develop a contract for junior doctors in Northern Ireland.


On 18 September 2015, Welsh Government officials issued a statement to BMA Cymru Wales indicating that they will retain the current junior doctor contract in Wales.


The Scottish Government has made clear that there will be no junior doctor contract imposition in Scotland.

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