Junior doctors have voted to extend strike action until at least January 2024. Members of the Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association (HCSA) in England voted on Tuesday to extend strike action by another 6 months – with 96.5% in favour.
The re-ballot result comes as junior doctors prepare to mount a walkout for 5 days from July 13.
The renewed mandate means strikes by HCSA members could now take place until at least 4 January 2024.
In a letter to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak following the re-ballot result, HCSA president Dr Naru Narayanan asked the PM to "be brave" and give Government negotiators the latitude to find a way out of this dispute.
He said: "The failure to negotiate meaningfully on the very real grievances of junior doctors is frankly unfathomable.
"If we are to have any hope of a resolution, it seems clear that your Government will need to move its position," Dr Narayanan said. "It will need to find the bravery to acknowledge and engage with the grievances of hospital doctors to seek a longer-term solution on pay erosion."
'Condemned' to Further Disruption and Strikes
Dr Narayanan added: "Junior doctors have today shown their resolve in a dispute which has already gone on too long but which due to Government stubbornness could now stretch on into winter.
"It has yet to move substantially on an offer it tabled months ago and it seems increasingly that the Prime Minister himself has emerged as a barrier to progress.
"No-one in their right mind wants to see the impact on the NHS of these strikes, least of all doctors who have dedicated their career to caring for patients.
"However, unless he changes his dogged insistence on trying to frame this dispute in terms of wider economics we will be condemned to further disruption and strikes.
"We are urging Rishi Sunak and his Government to be brave and soften their position so we can reach a longer-term settlement – one which satisfies the very real grievances of junior doctors who fear for staffing and services due to massive real-terms erosion of pay. There is a path out of this dispute."