Urgent call to avoid more strikes as Yorkshire junior doctors continue to fight on

Striking junior doctors across Yorkshire have shown no sign of backing down to Government amid further calls for contract talks to restart.

Junior doctors on the picket line outside the Leeds General Infirmary. Picture Tony Johnson.

The latest 48-hour ‘emergency care only’ walk-out, which saw all doctors below consultant level apart from those working in emergency wards down tools, ends tomorrow at 8am.

Nationally around 5,100 operations have been postponed over the last two days amid the ongoing dispute between the British Medical Association (BMA) and Government over a contract set to be imposed on juniors in August.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Around 150 Sheffield junior doctors voiced their displeasure over the Government’s stance by gathering at a rally in the city centre today.

A rally by junior doctors in Sheffield during the latest strike.

Dr Will Sapwell, a BMA representative in South Yorkshire, said: “The recent publication of the contract, which was as bad as we expected, and the accompanying equality report have really stoked up the discontent among junior doctors.

“We don’t see how an already-stretched five day service can be spread over seven days without our patients suffering and female doctors feel like collateral damage from the conclusion of the equality report.”

Doctors also picketed outside 140 English hospitals for the second time in two days earlier today, which striking workers picketing in Leeds claim resulted in “overwhelmingly positive and affirming” discussions with the public.

Dr Phil Atkinson, a Yorkshire junior on the Leeds St James’s Hospital picket, said: “If we agree to this contract, we are going to see the morale of an entire generation of junior doctors crushed – that’s going to be damaging for everyone.”

A rally by junior doctors in Sheffield during the latest strike.

Meanwhile, the BMA has urged Government to re-enter talks over a deal which the union fears is unfair and unsafe.

BMA junior doctor committee chair Dr Johann Malawana said: “Any future action is wholly avoidable, but the Government must get back around the negotiating table and end this.”

A ‘full withdrawal of labour’, which will see all BMA juniors below consultant level walk out, is due to take place for nine hours on both April 26 and 27.

A Department of Health spokeswoman urged doctors to consider the benefits of its deal. She said: “With almost 25,000 operations cancelled so far, it is patients who are suffering.”