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Next week’s three-day strike by junior doctors in England will threaten patients’ safety and exacerbate the NHS’s staffing crisis, hospital bosses warned.

They aired their fears hours after last-ditch talks between the British Medical Association (BMA) and Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) on Friday night failed to avert the stoppage, which will start on Monday and continue until Wednesday and cause massive disruption.

“Unfortunately we face an escalation of strike action next week that will take disruption to the next level,” three organisations representing hospital chiefs said on Saturday in a joint statement.

“Local NHS leaders are doing all they can to mitigate the impact but are very worried this will pose a risk to the safety of some patients and significantly set back progress on key strategic priorities, including backlog recovery,” said NHS Providers, the NHS Confederation and the Shelford Group, a group of leading teaching and research hospitals.

“We are deeply concerned too by the impact on the workforce,” they added. “Protracted disputes risk long-term damage to morale, retention and the relationship between staff and the service.”

The three organisations urged ministers and the BMA to start negotiations over the weekend that would suspend the strike. “It’s not too late for all sides to realise the harm a strike will do and redouble efforts to enter negotiations and avoid industrial action. Patients deserve nothing less,” they said.

Bosses of hospital trusts have grave fears about the 72-hour strike by junior doctors. They are all trainee medics and range from the newly qualified to those who are very experienced and are at just below the level of a consultant.

The BMA and the Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association (HCSA), which together represent about 61,000 junior doctors, have coordinated their campaigns of industrial action so that they strike simultaneously over those three days to in order to maximise their effectiveness.

They are seeking “full pay restoration” – a 26% pay rise to make up for the real-terms erosion of their earnings that they say they have experienced since 2008/09. They want the pay received by doctors just out of medical school to rise from £14 an hour to £19.

Earlier Prof Sir Stephen Powis, NHS England’s medical director, outlined his fear that the stoppage would lead to many more outpatient appointments and operations being postponed than have occurred as a result of any of the many strikes since December by nurses, ambulance staff and physiotherapists.

Dr Rob Laurenson and Dr Vivek Trevedi, the co-chairs of the BMA’s junior doctors committee, met DHSC civil servants on Friday afternoon in a move that the BMA hoped would lead to fresh proposals from the government and thus potentially their walkout being called off.

However, afterwards the BMA said that “the talks came to nothing as civil servants were not forthcoming on any kind of viable offer” and that the health secretary, Steve Barclay, did not attend.

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Laurenson and Trevedi said that at the meeting “we were asked to suspend the strikes but with nothing on the table in return – no credible offer, nothing to negotiate and no clear understanding of our demands, or what has led us to feel we have no alternative but to take strike action.”

They said they did not receive enough information from the civil servants to accept the precondition the government has given other public sector unions – to call off planned strikes before negotiations can begin.

Health unions did accept that demand and spent several days last week in negotiations with the DHSC about trying to settle their own pay dispute. Sources say the discussions so far have been productive and have led to progress but more talks are needed before a deal can be struck.

A DHSC spokesperson said: “We have invited the BMA to enter formal talks covering pay for this current financial year and next, with new investment in pay for doctors and dentists in training.

“As with other health unions, in order for talks to start, all planned strike action must be called off with immediate effect.

“Whilst the BMA have yet to accept this offer, it remains on the table.”

#Junior #doctors #strike #threatens #patient #safety #NHS #hospital #bosses

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