Junior doctors in England to strike again in December and January -union

LONDON (Reuters) -Junior doctors in England will take further strike action later this month and in January, their trade union said on Tuesday, after weeks of talks with the government failed to end a long-running dispute over pay.

The British Medical Association (BMA), which represents nearly 200,000 doctors in Britain, said junior doctors would walk out from 0700 GMT on Dec. 20 until 0700 GMT on Dec. 23, and again from 0700 GMT on Jan. 3 until 0700 GMT on Jan. 9.

“We have been clear from the outset of these talks that we needed to move at pace and if we did not have a credible offer, we would be forced to call strikes,” BMA junior doctors committee co-chairs Robert Laurenson and Vivek Trivedi said.

“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.”

The BMA said the government had offered an additional 3%, unevenly spread across doctors’ grades, which it argued would still amount to pay cuts for many doctors this year.

British health minister Victoria Atkins said it was disappointing the BMA Junior Doctors Committee had walked away from negotiations and declared new strikes.

Atkins said the latest strikes would result in more disruption for patients and extra pressure on Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) during a busy winter period.

“If the Junior Doctors Committee call off their strikes, we will immediately look to come back to the table to continue negotiations,” Atkins said.

Last month the government reached a deal with medical unions which could see an end to strike action by senior doctors, known as consultants, in England.

The BMA said that offer, which will be put to a vote over the coming weeks, would see some doctors would receive an additional uplift of as much as 12.8%.

The Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association (HCSA) also said junior doctors in England will stage a fresh 72-hour walkout from Dec. 20 until 22 over an ongoing dispute over pay.

“We need a resolution which answers the central issue here – the impact of years of real-terms salary cuts on recruitment, morale and retention,” HCSA President Dr Naru Narayanan said.

(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan, additional reporting by Farouq Suleiman; editing by Sarah Young and Alistair Smout)