UK

Wes Streeting urges junior doctors to cancel strikes and promises ‘day one’ call

The shadow health secretary said he would be on the phone to junior doctors on the first day of a Labour government to resolve the dispute.

Junior doctors on the picket line outside St Thomas’ Hospital in central London in February
Junior doctors on the picket line outside St Thomas’ Hospital in central London in February (Aaron Chown/PA)

Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting has urged junior doctors to call off their upcoming strike and said he would be on the phone to them “on day one” of a Labour government to settle the long-running pay dispute.

He said he was “beyond furious” the industrial action is ongoing as he blamed the Tories for failing to resolve them.

Junior doctors in England are preparing to stage a full walkout for five days starting from 7am on June 27.

The strike is set to end just two days before voters go to the polls.

Mr Streeting told Sunday Morning With Trevor Phillips on Sky News: “This Government is incapable of resolving the dispute before polling day on July 4.

“I don’t think there’s anything to be achieved by having strikes in the election campaign. The only thing we will see is more untold misery inflicted on patients who see their appointments and procedures delayed and also junior doctors out of pocket.”

He continued: “I’ve called on them to call off the strikes in the election campaign, give change a chance on July 4 knowing that if there is a Labour government on July 5, I will be phoning them on day one and asking the department to get talks up and running urgently…

“I’m beyond furious that this is still happening.”

But he reiterated that “the money isn’t there” to give junior doctors a 35% pay rise, which would restore their pay in real terms to their 2010 levels.

When the British Medical Association announced the strike, it said that if Prime Minister Rishi Sunak made a “concrete commitment to restore doctors’ pay” during his campaign “that is acceptable to the BMA’s junior doctors committee, then no strikes need go ahead”.

In May, the Government and the BMA entered mediated talks to try to resolve the dispute.

But they failed to reach agreement before parliamentary business was concluded in the run-up to the election.

The last strike by junior doctors, from February 24 to 28 this year, led to 91,048 appointments, operations and procedures being postponed.