Junior doctors on South Tyneside are set to walk out after voting to strike in a row with the Government over new contracts.
Following a ballot of more than 37,000 junior doctors, more than 99% have voted in favour of industrial action short of a strike, and 98% for full strike action.
The British Medical Association (BMA) says it regrets the disruption that the action will cause, chiefs say that junior doctors have been left with no alternative due to the Government’s intention to impose a contract that is “unsafe for patients and unfair for doctors”.
The first walk-out will start on December 1, with another two dates earmarked for later in the month. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the doctors’ decision was “very, very disappointing” news.
Bosses at South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust were unable to comment on the possible impact of the strikes despite being contacted by the Gazette.
The BMA say that the proposed action has been announced well in advance to allow employers to put in place plans to minimise disruption to staff and patients.
Dr Mark Porter, the BMA council chairman, said: “We regret the inevitable disruption that this will cause but it is the Government’s adamant insistence on imposing a contract that is unsafe for patients in the future, and unfair for doctors now and in the future, that has brought us to this point.
“Patients are doctors’ first priority, which is why, even with such a resounding mandate, we are keen to avert the need for industrial action, which is why we have approached Acas to offer conciliatory talks with the health secretary and NHS Employers to clarify the conflicting information coming from Government over the past weeks.”