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Medical leaders call for third party to ‘rapidly engage’ junior doctors and government in strike negotiations | UK News

Medical chiefs have called for an independent third party to broker talks between junior doctors and the government.

The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges urged both parties to “rapidly engage” with an organisation to work out “how the deadlock can be broken for the sake of patients and the wider NHS”.

The 96-hour strike from 11-15 April saw an average of 26,145 staff per day walk out as a result of the dispute over pay.

Nearly 200,000 hospital appointments and procedures in England had to be rescheduled, according to NHS England data.

This included 20,470 inpatient procedures and 175,755 outpatient appointments – making a total of 196,225.

Medical leaders said on Wednesday that the Academy was concerned a solution had not yet been reached and issues needed to be “addressed as a matter of urgency”.

NHS junior doctors take part in a march and rally in the centre of Birmingham, on the final day of the British Medical Association's 96-hour walkout in a dispute over pay. Picture date: Friday April 14, 2023.
NHS junior doctors in Birmingham

“All colleges are keenly aware of the concerns and frustration of doctors throughout the NHS and the intense workload pressures they, along with other NHS professionals, are facing as a result of workforce shortages and as a legacy of the Covid-19 pandemic,” a statement read.

“These are issues which do need to be addressed as a matter of urgency and junior doctors have the support of the Academy and their own colleges in doing this.

Read more:
Emergency care to be prioritised
‘Huge concern’ over worst NHS strike yet

Health secretary ‘willing to engage’ with medics

“We urge both parties to engage swiftly and to enter negotiations with a commitment to work constructively and to offer flexibility.

“To this end both parties need to rapidly engage with an independent organisation to work out how the deadlock can be broken for the sake of patients and the wider NHS.”

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Inside the junior doctors’ strike

It comes after the NHS national medical director Professor Sir Stephen Powis said the strikes were having a “colossal impact” on planned care in the NHS, with staff now having “an immense amount of work to catch up on”.

“We have now seen nearly half a million appointments rescheduled over the last five months, and with each strike, it becomes harder,” he said.

“While our staff are doing all they possibly can to manage the disruption, it is becoming increasingly difficult and the impact on patients and staff will unfortunately continue to worsen.”

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35% pay rise for doctors ‘not reasonable’

The British Medical Association (BMA) union has demanded a 35% pay rise for junior doctors to bring salaries back to 2008-2009 levels.

But Health Secretary Steve Barclay described the BMA’s call as “unreasonable” and accused junior doctors of taking a “militant stance” and timing a four-day strike after the bank holiday to cause “maximum disruption” for patients.

Hospital leaders fear for patient safety ahead of ‘unprecedented’ strike by junior doctors | UK News

Hospital leaders have expressed serious concerns about how they will maintain patient safety as the health service enters “unchartered territory” during “unprecedented” strike action next week.

Junior doctors who are training in England will stage their longest walkout so far between 11 and 15 April.

The 96-hour strike is likely to be the most disruptive in the history of the health service due to the length of the action and the fact doctors have chosen to stage it directly after a long bank holiday weekend.

The bank holiday traditionally causes disruption to the NHS even without the prospect of strike action.

The walkout also coincides with the Easter school holidays, which means many consultant staff who provided cover during the first round of strikes will be unable to do so again due to pre-planned holidays and childcare commitments.

NHS Providers, which represents NHS trusts, said the timing of the strike and its duration present a “range of challenges over and above the disruption seen from the industrial action in recent months”.

It said that during the strike, the NHS will focus resources on emergency treatment, critical care, maternity, neonatal care and trauma.

But even in these areas, there are “real concerns of a raised risk to safety”, NHS Providers said.

The strikes could lead to delays for some patients starting treatment – for instance, if a new cancer patient needed to start weekly rounds of chemotherapy, the start of their treatment may be delayed until after the strike action to ensure continuity.

Last month’s 72-hour walkout led to about 175,000 hospital appointments and operations being postponed.

Hospital leaders have raised concerns with NHS Providers about the impact of the strike.

“This is less about what planned routine work gets pulled down and everything about maintenance of safety in emergency departments, acute medicine and surgery,” one hospital trust chief executive said.

“Concerned doesn’t begin to describe it.”

Another said: “I am not confident this time that we can maintain patient safety as we will not be able to provide the cover.”

“Many of the consultants who stepped up to do nights last time are not available or are more reluctant this time,” a third said.

While another added: “Those with families almost certainly won’t as [they] can’t rearrange out of school holidays.”

Read more:
Analysis: Where will the money for a 5% pay deal come from?

Sir Julian Hartley, chief executive of NHS Providers, said: “It’s clear from our extensive dialogue with trust leaders that we are in uncharted territory.

“Yet again we are seeing colleagues pull out all the stops to minimise disruption and ensure patient safety. But the challenges here are unprecedented.”

Dr Latifa Patel, workforce lead for the British Medical Association, said: “No one understands better than us, the doctors who care for them, that patients are getting a substandard experience 365 days a year from an overstretched and understaffed NHS.

“In this brutal work environment, patient care is at risk every day due to chronic staff shortages and years of underinvestment in equipment and services.

“Junior doctors have no desire to strike, they been pushed into this action by long-term government inaction and now want to bring this dispute to an end as quickly as possible.

“We hope the health secretary will come to the table immediately with a meaningful pay offer so doctors can avoid more strike action and instead return to doing what they want to be doing: caring for their patients.”

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Why are doctors quitting the NHS?

A department of health and social care spokesperson said: “Four days of strikes by junior doctors will risk patient safety and cause further disruption and postponed treatment.

“The BMA’s demand for a 35% pay rise is totally unreasonable and unaffordable.

“We urge them to come to the table with a realistic approach so we can find a way forward, as we have done with other health unions, which balances fairly rewarding junior doctors for their hard work with meeting the prime minister’s ambition to halve inflation.

“We are working with NHS England to put in place contingency plans to protect patient safety.

“The NHS will prioritise resources to protect emergency treatment, critical care, maternity and neonatal care, and trauma.”

Sunak to urge world leaders to ‘move faster’ to arm Ukraine as he leads minute’s silence on war anniversary | Politics News

Rishi Sunak is to urge fellow world leaders to “move faster” to arm Ukraine’s troops as he leads a minute’s silence on the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion.

The prime minister is expected to use a G7 meeting on Friday to call on allies to supply longer-range weapons to Ukraine as there is an urgent need for Kyiv to gain a “decisive advantage” on the battlefield.

Mr Sunak will lead the UK in a minute’s silence at 11am to mark the anniversary in front of the Downing Street door.

He will be joined by the Ukrainian Ambassador to the UK, Vadym Prystaiko, members of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and representatives from each of the 11 nations that are part of the British-led Ukrainian troop training programme, Operation Interflex.

UN demands Russia withdraw troops – Ukraine war latest

“For Ukraine to win this war – and to accelerate that day – they must gain a decisive advantage on the battlefield. That is what it will take to shift Putin’s mindset,” Mr Sunak is expected to tell G7 leaders in a virtual meeting.

“This must be our priority now. Instead of an incremental approach, we need to move faster on artillery, armour, and air defence.

“The coming weeks will be difficult for Ukraine, but they will also be difficult for Russia. They are overreaching once again. So now is the time to support Ukraine’s plan to re-arm, regroup, and push forward.”

Mr Sunak will also reiterate his offer of UK support to countries able to provide jets to Ukraine as he and his wife, Akshata Murty, hang a blue and yellow wreath on the door of Number 10.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called on Western countries to send fighter jets to Ukraine and while the UK has announced training for Ukrainian pilots on NATO-standard jets it has not sent any planes.

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Johnson: ‘Send jets to Ukraine’

Former PM Boris Johnson has joined those calls and told Sky News on Thursday the UK needs to “break the ice” by becoming the first country to supply Ukraine with the aircraft.

But so far, neither Mr Sunak or his defence secretary Ben Wallace have not made a steadfast commitment to do so.

Sky News exclusively reported on Thursday the Treasury has signalled there is no new money for defence, despite recognising the urgent need to rearm in the wake of the war.

As things stand, the British army would run out of ammunition within a few days if called upon to fight and would take up to 10 years to field a modern warfighting division of some 25,000 to 30,000 troops.

Read more:
PM has ‘no interest in defence’ as UK ammo stockpiles proved ‘inadequate’ by war
Ukraine war: The race to rearm could decide who wins the conflict
British prisoner of war in Ukraine reveals Russian torture methods

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A look back on a year of war in Ukraine

On the eve of the anniversary, Mr Sunak said: “As we mark one year since a full-scale war broke out on our continent, I urge everyone to reflect on the courage and bravery of our Ukrainian friends who, every hour since, have fought heroically for their country.

“I am proud that the UK has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Ukraine through this horrific conflict.

“As I stand with brave Ukrainian soldiers outside Downing Street today, my thoughts will be with all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to defend freedom and return peace to Europe.”

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Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, who met Mr Zelenskyy in Kyiv recently, said the UK’s support “is as firm and unstinting today as it was on that dark day one year ago”.

He said his party stands “in lockstep with the government” in continuing support to Ukraine “regardless of what other political disagreements we may have”.

NHS leaders making contingency plans as biggest walkout in its history looms | UK News

NHS leaders are making contingency plans as the biggest walkout in the health service’s history looms.

Ambulance staff and nurses are both set to go on strike on 6 February – taking industrial action on the same day for the first time ever.

Saffron Cordery, the interim chief executive of NHS Providers, has said the proposed walkouts are a “huge concern”.

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‘What do we want? Fair pay!’

She said: “Trusts have been warning for months that coordinated strikes were a possibility if the government and unions failed to reach an early agreement on this year’s pay award.”

Ms Cordery urged ministers to “get round the table with the unions urgently to deal with the key issue of pay for this financial year, otherwise there is no light at the end of the tunnel”.

The Royal College of Nursing has confirmed that further strikes will take place on 6 and 7 February in a long-running dispute over pay.

But yesterday, the GMB union also announced that more than 10,000 ambulance workers – including paramedics and call handlers – are also staging a walkout on 6 February.

“It could be the biggest day of industrial action the NHS has ever seen,” Ms Cordery warned.

Read more:
Sir Keir Starmer calls on Rishi Sunak to apologise for ‘lethal chaos’ in NHS

‘The PM has to listen’: Hundreds of striking nurses descend on Downing Street
Paramedics warn patients are waiting up to 26 hours to get into hospital

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‘I work 30 hours overtime to top up pay’

‘A significant challenge’

Today, thousands of nurses are on strike at more than 55 NHS trusts in England in their second and final day of industrial action this week.

But Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, says February’s dual walkouts will have a far bigger impact.

He added: “This escalation takes us deeper into the situation NHS leaders have been warning against – a war of attrition between the government and unions spanning several months at a time when NHS services are seeing unprecedented pressures.

“Health leaders will now be intensifying plans and preparations for the combined strike of nurses and ambulance workers next month, which will pose a more significant challenge than the industrial action we have seen to date.”

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10% pay rise for nurses ‘not affordable’

Rishi Sunak has said his government is “very keen to have a constructive dialogue” with unions across the public sector – and stressed talks are ongoing to find a way of bringing strikes to an end.

The prime minister added: “But we do also need to make sure that those conversations are based on what’s reasonable, what’s responsible for the country as we tackle inflation, which is good for everybody if we can get that down as quickly as possible.”

Also yesterday, Health Secretary Steve Barclay ruled out a 10% pay rise for nurses – insisting it was “not affordable”.

He warned this would amount to an additional £3.6bn a year that would take money away from patient services.

Protesters outside Downing Street, London, during the nurses strike, against the Bill on minimum service levels during strikes. Picture date: Wednesday January 18, 2023.

‘Totally heartbroken’

The Royal College of Nursing’s chief executive and general secretary, Pat Cullen, says nurses feel “totally heartbroken” at going on strike, but have no choice.

She said: “No nurse should be ashamed to say that, actually, they’re really struggling to live on the meagre salaries that this government’s paying them. It’s their right to be paid a decent wage.”

In a statement, Ms Cullen said patients had also joined picket lines on Wednesday – indicating “this is a battle for the soul of the NHS as much as it’s about pay rises”.

If you are an NHS worker and would like to share your experiences with us anonymously, please email

Focus turns to Queen’s funeral as world leaders arrive, scaffolding is erected and rehearsals get under way | UK News

Preparations are well under way for the Queen’s state funeral with scaffolding being erected, world leaders arriving in London and rehearsals at Westminster Abbey and Windsor Castle.

As the lying in state continues in Westminster Hall, the queue of mourners waiting to see the monarch’s coffin is now expected to take around 22 hours from the back to the front.

Representatives from the Commonwealth nations have been invited to pay their respects, and heads of state from around the world are arriving throughout the weekend, both to attend the Queen’s funeral, and to sign a book of condolences.

A sign in Southwark Park in London, informing members of the public that the queue to view Queen Elizabeth II lying in state ahead of her funeral on Monday is 14 hours plus. Picture date: Friday September 16, 2022.

Meanwhile, King Charles will meet the chiefs of staff at Buckingham Palace before visiting police headquarters, where he will thank representatives from all the emergency services involved in the planning and delivery of the events during the mourning period.

He will also attend, with Camilla, the Queen Consort, a lunch for governors general – the people who represent the monarch in overseas realms – at the palace.

Man in custody after trying to rush Queen’s coffin, queues through a cold London night – all the latest, live

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The Queen’s children stand vigil for a final time ahead of her grandchildren’s tribute

Also on Saturday, the Queen’s grandchildren will take their turn standing in vigil around her coffin.

The Prince of Wales will stand at the head, the Duke of Sussex at the foot.

William will be flanked by his cousins Zara Tindall and Peter Philips – the children of the Princess Royal – while Harry will be with the Duke of York’s daughters Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie.

Peter Phillips, Zara Tindall and her husband Mike Tindall leave after attending the National Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul's Cathedral during the Queen's Platinum Jubilee celebrations in London, Britain, June 3, 2022. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
Peter Phillips (L), Zara Tindall and her husband Mike Tindall (2nd L) during the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations

The Earl of Wessex‘s children Lady Louise and Viscount Severn will stand near the middle.

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Watch live stream of the Queen lying in state

Forecasters say the sun is expected to shine on those waiting in the queue and those already securing the best spots for the funeral procession. After a cold start, Saturday should see long, sunny spells with maximum temperatures of 17C (62F), they predict.

London to Windsor route revealed where thousands can see Queen’s coffin on day of funeral

Queen Elizabeth II portrait

A London Fashion Week diversity fashion show will also take place in honour of the late Queen on Saturday. Models will carry a white lily in tribute.

Codenamed Operation London Bridge, arrangements for the Queen’s death have been carefully pored over for years, with the monarch herself overseeing and approving every detail before her passing.

However, the exact details were kept under wraps until the sitting sovereign, King Charles III, gave it his final seal of approval.

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What is a state funeral?

Monday’s funeral is at Westminster Abbey, one of London’s most recognisable landmarks and near the Palace of Westminster.

It has been the setting for every coronation since 1066, and was where the then-Princess Elizabeth married Prince Philip in 1947.

Watch and follow the Queen's funeral on TV, web and apps on Monday from 9am
Watch and follow the Queen’s funeral on TV, web and apps on Monday from 9am