Hospitals in England are having to prepare for five days of strike action after junior doctors switched up a gear their campaign against the new working contract.
Junior doctors are planning escalated industrial action unless the government stops the imposition of the new contract and agrees to further negotiation.
The British Medical Association council has now cleared plans for a full strike by junior doctors from 8am to 5pm for five days starting on 12 September, with additional dates to be confirmed. According to the BBC, confidential papers drawn up by the BMA indicate there could be five days of strikes each month for the rest of the year.
The BMA said that despite its efforts to work with the Health Secretary to resolve the dispute, "the Government has failed to listen, leaving us with no option but to take more industrial action."
"We have a simple ask of the government: stop the imposition. If it agrees to do this, junior doctors will call off industrial action," added Ellen McCourt, BMA junior doctors committee chair.
Earlier this year the trade union had reached agreement with the government on conditions in the contract and had urged junior doctors to accept its terms, but 58 percent of the 68 percent turnout of junior doctors voted against it.
"Forcing a contract on junior doctors in which they don't have confidence, that they don't feel is good for patients or themselves, is not something they can accept," McCourt wrote in a letter to members earlier this year.
According to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, 100,000 operations could be cancelled as a result of the walk-out. He told BBC News: "Around a million hospital appointments will have to be postponed, causing worry, distress and anxiety for families up and down the country".
Also commenting on the proposed action, Prof Derek Bell, president of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, and Dr Katherine Walesby, chair of its Trainees' Committee, reiterated the call "for the UK Government, through the Prime Minister, to recognise the enormity of this situation and take action to bring all parties back together to facilitate a solution and avoid further strike action. We need to restore stability in the junior doctor workforce in England not create further uncertainty".
"An ongoing dispute is in no-one's interests and the potential impact on our patients, the NHS workforce and the long term sustainability of the NHS is profound."