JUNIOR doctors in Cumbria are set to take strike action over the festive period after talks with the government failed to produce a ‘credible’ pay deal.

Five weeks of talks between junior doctors in England and the Government have ended without a deal with the British Medical Association’s (BMA) junior doctors committee voting ‘unanimously’ for further strike action.

Junior doctors will walk out from 7am on December 20 until 7am December 23 and from 7am on January 3 to 7am on the January 9 which will put even more pressure on the health service during its busiest time of the year.

Further strike action by senior doctors over the festive period has been avoided after the BMA sent an improved pay offer to members.

The offer from Government is for 4.95 per cent investment in pay – for this financial year - in addition to the 6 per cent pay uplift already awarded for this year. If the offer is accepted, the changes will be applicable from January 2024, but will be paid retrospectively in April 2024.

The pay offer of three per cent on top of an 8.8 per cent rise to junior doctors was rejected by the BMA as it would ‘amount to a pay cut’ for doctors.

“It is a great shame that even though the approach was more constructive, there was not enough on offer to shape a credible deal, which we hoped would end the dispute,” said BMA junior doctors committee co-chairs Dr Robert Laurenson and Dr Vivek Trivedi said.

“Without enough progress by the deadline, we have no choice but to take action that demonstrates doctors are as determined as ever in reversing their pay cuts.

“However, we can still avoid the need for these strikes. We will be ready and willing any time the Government wants to talk. If a credible offer can be presented the day before, or even during any action, these strikes can be cancelled. 

“A year after our dispute started, we are still too far from turning the tide on plummeting pay, morale, and retention of doctors.”

Victoria Atkins, the health and social care secretary, said: “It is disappointing that despite significant progress, the BMA junior doctors’ committee have walked away from negotiations and declared new strikes which will result in more disruption for patients and extra pressure on NHS services and staff as we enter a busy winter period, risking patient safety.

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“I have been clear that I respect the work of doctors in training and want to work with them to settle this dispute.

“We have agreed a fair and reasonable offer with the BMA’s consultants’ committee which is being put to members.

“If the junior doctors’ committee call off their strikes, we will immediately look to come back to the table to continue negotiations.”