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Doctors in dispute

14 June 2023

Junior hospital doctors picketing in March, Royal Free Hospital, London. Photo Workers.

Junior hospital doctors in England are on strike for 72 hours from 14 to 17 June. This is their third strike since March in support of their pay campaign.

Their trade union, the British Medical Association (BMA), has a mandate for further strikes – three days each month  through the summer. It is re-balloting members during that time, in case further action is needed.


Three weeks of negotiations since the April strikes were unproductive. The government made an offer of 5 per cent. That went nowhere to restore the 26 per cent reduction, in real terms, of junior doctors’ pay since 2008.

In Scotland an offer of 14.5 per cent over two years was decisively rejected. BMA members have voted for three days of strikes starting on 13 July.


The erosion of doctors’ pay has contributed to a staffing crisis in the NHS. Medical schools turn away highly qualified candidates, because of a government cap on British medical student numbers, though medical schools are allowed to recruit overseas students willy-nilly.

Increasing numbers of junior doctors leave medicine altogether, or emigrate in the belief that their skills will be better valued in North America, Australia or New Zealand.

Meanwhile agencies grow fat on their fees for arranging locum cover to patch gaps in provision. And over 7 million patients are on waiting lists for elective procedures.

No trust

As with nurses, doctors no longer put their trust in their pay review body, the Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration, as governments consistently ignore its recommendations.

Hospital consultants are also voting on industrial action: the ballot closes on 27 June. If the ballot is successful, the BMA has announced two strike days on 20 and 21 July, when consultants, the most senior hospital doctors, will provide only emergency cover.