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NHS ‘doesn’t just belong to junior doctors’, says health secretary as strikes continue | Politics News

The NHS “doesn’t just belong” to striking junior doctors and can’t be “switched on and off on whim”, the health secretary said.

Victoria Atkins turned up the heat in the government’s row with the British Medical Association (BMA) as their record-breaking walk-out continues.

Junior doctors in England are in the middle of a six-day strike over pay and conditions, the longest industrial action in NHS history.

A number of hospitals in England have pleaded for medics to leave picket lines and get back to work due to safety concerns, also known as derogation requests.

But this has sparked a row as the BMA has suggested the requests are “politically motivated”.

Ms Atkins promised to start talks with the BMA “in 20 minutes” if the strikes were called off.

Speaking on a visit to London Ambulance Service, she told the PA news agency: “I’ve said throughout this that, please, to the junior doctors’ committee, the moment you call off the strikes, I’ll get back around the table with you within 20 minutes.”

She said the strikes have to be called off for negotiations to happen, “because the NHS belongs to us all”.

“It doesn’t just belong to the junior doctors’ committee, and for the 1.3 million people who work in the NHS, as well of course for the tens of millions of people it looks after, the NHS cannot be switched on and off on whim.”

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The longest strike in NHS history

However, the BMA hit back calling it a “political choice” for Downing Street to “stick rigidly to its dogma of not negotiating while strikes are planned”.

Professor Philip Banfield, BMA council chairman, said: “In the past, the government waived this principle for the barrister strikes, so there is no reason for them to waste time and money by…

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This notice was published: 2024-01-04 19:17:00

By Sky News

Sky News is a British 24-hour information television channel, the first in Europe of its kind, launched on February 5, 1989 by the British Sky Broadcasting Company.

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