Thursday 18 April 2024
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Nottinghamshire hospital trust plans for third junior doctors’ strike

The trust in charge of King’s Mill Hospital says planning is underway for a third round of junior doctor strikes taking place later this month.

Members of the British Medical Association (BMA) will walk out for 72 hours from 7am on Wednesday, June 14 in a continued row over pay and working conditions.

The action will be the third time medics have walked out this year following separate strikes in March over three days and four days in April.

It comes as the union calls on ministers to give junior doctors a 35 per cent pay settlement to make up for what it estimates as a 26.2 per cent fall in the real-terms value of their salaries since 2008.

It has warned it will continue to stage walk-outs of at least three days over the summer unless it receives a “credible” offer.

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However, the Government has remained firm and said it has offered a “reasonable opening offer” to halt the upcoming walkout.

Now bosses at Sherwood Forest Hospitals Trust (SFH), which runs Mansfield Community, King’s Mill and Newark Hospitals, say they have started planning for the industrial action.

They expect to know by Monday afternoon (June 5) how staffing levels will be affected by the upcoming strike, though about 85 per cent of juniors walked out last time around.

Speaking in the most recent board of directors meeting on June 1, Rachel Eddie, the trust’s chief operating officer, said: “We’ve started our strike planning meetings.

“On Monday we will … be able to understand the coverage we’ve got across the rotas.

“Previous strikes have gone well and we’ve managed to cover pretty much every shift we’ve needed to.

“It’s difficult to say until we get to that point [of the strike] whether we will get the same response this time.

“With each progressive strike we potentially might see, there might be less take-up.

“However, it’s not the holiday period this time, whereas the last time it was in the Easter holidays and that could work in our favour.

“No major concerns are flagged at this point, though it is early days.”

Other members of the board raised concerns about the upcoming industrial action and the impact it could have on finances and long-term projects.

David Selwyn, the trust’s medical director and deputy chief executive, said: “It’s disappointing we’re having a third period of industrial action and I think we all recognise that.

“There clearly is a strength of feeling amongst the medical workforce that is being reflected both in the national and on social media.

“But this is a massive undertaking for us as an organisation. You’re talking about an impact that lasts a month and this is the third month, in effect, we will lose other activities on a whole host of things we would like to do.

“Notwithstanding the impact on our patients, the huge financial cost this has as an organisation, but also the forward-facing impact.”

However, Robert Simcox, the trust’s director of people, said: “This will be the third period we’ve gone through.

“There are lessons learnt from period one, from period two, and we will take all of this into the planning Rachel has described over the next few weeks.”

On the upcoming strikes, the BMA said it has negotiated with ministers for three weeks but received “no recognition” about its “scale of pay erosion”.

The BMA said: “We made proposals showing our willingness to be creative and work with the Government on how the reversal of our pay erosion could be achieved.

“In the end, however, the Government would simply not accept the fundamental reality of the pay cuts junior doctors have faced.”

But a Government spokesperson said it was “surprising and deeply disappointing” the BMA had called a further strike while “constructive” talks were ongoing.

They added: “We made a fair and reasonable opening offer [of five per cent], and were in active discussions about both pay and non-pay issues.

“Unfortunately, it seems the BMA is unwilling to move meaningfully away from their unaffordable headline demands on pay.”

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