Tories vented fury at unions for attempting to sabotage the election today after junior doctors announce a six-day walkout. 

Hospitals are set to be brought to a virtual standstill as thousands of medics demanding pay hikes of up to 35 per cent go on strike from from 7am on June 27 to 7am on July 2 – just 48 hours before polls open.

British Medical Association (BMA) bosses claimed the Government had not made a credible offer and junior doctors were ‘fed up and out of patience’. 

But health secretary Victoria Atkins said it was a ‘highly cynical’ tactic and pointed out that news had broken on Labour’s ‘health day’. A senior Tory source went further, MailOnline there was ‘clearly collusion’ with the Opposition. 

More than a million appointments and operations have been cancelled because of the never-ending wave of NHS strikes that kicked off in 2022. 

The BMA claims its demands are for ‘pay restoration’ given that previous NHS salary rises for medics have not kept pace with inflation since 2008. 

Thousands of medics demanding pay hikes of up to 35 per cent will walk-out from June 27 to July 2. British Medical Association (BMA) bosses claimed the Government had not made a credible offer and junior doctors were 'fed up and out of patience'. Pictured, junior doctors on the picket line outside St Thomas Hospital in London during strike action in January

Thousands of medics demanding pay hikes of up to 35 per cent will walk-out from June 27 to July 2. British Medical Association (BMA) bosses claimed the Government had not made a credible offer and junior doctors were ‘fed up and out of patience’. Pictured, junior doctors on the picket line outside St Thomas Hospital in London during strike action in January 

In a joint statement, BMA junior doctor committee co-chairs Dr Robert Laurenson (right) and Dr Vivek Trivedi (left) said the action could have been averted had the Government agreed to come to the negotiating table

In a joint statement, BMA junior doctor committee co-chairs Dr Robert Laurenson (right) and Dr Vivek Trivedi (left) said the action could have been averted had the Government agreed to come to the negotiating table 

It marks the 11th walkout by the medics after their first strike in March 2023.

Posting on the X site, Ms Atkins said: ‘Today should be the day the Labour Party finally condemn junior doctor strikes.

‘Announcing this during an election and on Labour’s health day shows this was only ever political and not about patients or staff.’

She described the junior doctors’ decision as a ‘highly cynical tactic’, adding: ‘This Conservative Government has taken the tough decisions to keep public spending down to bear down on inflation, which is now back to normal.

Junior doctors’ pay – the truth 

Junior doctors were awarded a pay rise of 6 per cent plus a consolidated payment of £1,250 in July, in line with the recommendation of the Independent Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration.

The package was equivalent to an average increase of 8.1 per cent from 2022/23 to 2023/24, or 10.3 per cent for those in their first year of training.

Average basic pay for a first year doctor increased from £29,384 to £32,397, while a junior doctor who had been a specialty trainee for six years or more saw their pay rise from £58,398 to £63,152.

Many are paid a higher sum for working overtime and receiving enhanced rates for working unsociable hours.

Junior doctors pocketed the extra money despite vowing to continue striking, with some boasting the additional income would subsidise further walkouts.

Steve Barclay, who was Health Secretary from October 2022 until November 2023, and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak had described the settlement as final and insisted there would be no more talks about pay.

But the British Medical Association has held further negotiations with officials and ministers in the Department of Health and Social Care since October, resulting an offer of an extra 3 per cent, which has been rejected by union representatives.

The BMA has claimed that junior doctors have seen their pay eroded by more than a quarter in real terms over the past 15 years.

The trainee medics have been demanding full pay restoration — worth around 35 per cent — and have said they would not settle for anything less, although senior figures within the union have suggested they may compromise.

‘Labour would be in the hands of their union paymasters – meaning more spending and higher taxes.’

Sir Keir said it was ‘unforgivable’ that the government  

Speaking to broadcasters during a campaign visit to the University of Worcester, the Labour leader said: ‘Firstly I’m shocked that we’re in this position because this has been going on a very long time.

‘I think the Government should have resolved it and negotiated a settlement. And what they’ve effectively done is kicked it to the other side of the General Election. That’s unforgivable.

‘Obviously, I don’t want the strike to go ahead. I don’t think health staff want to go on strike and it really impacts on patients. So I don’t want it to go ahead.

‘But if we are privileged enough to come in to serve, then it will fall to us to settle this and to come to an agreement so the NHS gets back to working in the way that it desperately needs to for so many people on the waiting lists.’

The junior doctors’ committee had been in discussions with the Government for three months in efforts to reach a deal. 

But talks have broken down despite both parties confirming last month that they had brought in a mediator to try and ‘break the logjam’.

In a joint statement, committee co-chairs Dr Robert Laurenson and Dr Vivek Trivedi said the action could have been averted had the Government agreed to come to the negotiating table.

They said: ‘We made clear to the Government that we would strike unless discussions ended in a credible pay offer. 

‘For more than 18 months we have been asking Rishi Sunak to put forward proposals to restore the pay junior doctors have lost over the past 15 years — equal to more than a quarter in real terms.​

‘When we entered mediation with Government this month we did so under the impression that we had a functioning government that would soon be making an offer. 

‘Clearly no offer is now forthcoming. Junior doctors are fed up and out of patience.’

​They added: ‘Even at this late stage Mr Sunak has the opportunity to show that he cares about the NHS and its workers. 

‘It is finally time for him to make a concrete commitment to restore doctors’ pay. 

‘If during this campaign he makes such a public commitment that is acceptable to the BMA’s junior doctors committee, then no strikes need go ahead.’

The fresh wave of strike action comes four months after the last walk-out by junior medics. 

Thousands took to picket lines for five days’ worth of industrial action that caused huge disruption across the NHS.

While previous walkouts have led to the cancellation of elective care, emergency services like A&Es have remained open. 

Officials have urged Brits needing urgent medical care to still seek help if needed.

Health Secretary Victoria Atkins today said the union’s newly-announced dates ‘shows this was only ever political and not about patients of staff’. 

She wrote on X, formerly Twitter: ‘I am in politics to help patients not trade unions. 

‘Today should be the day the Labour Party finally condemn Junior Doctor strikes. 

‘Announcing this during an election and on Labour’s health day shows this was only ever political and not about patients or staff.’

She added: ‘I’ll always deal constructively if the other side does too. 

‘Junior Doctors should take note and start acting like they want a better deal for their members.’

One senior Tory source also told MailOnline the action is ‘clearly collusion with Labour announcing this on their health day.’ 

It comes just days after shadow health secretary Wes Streeting admitted he could not meet striking doctors’ 35 per cent pay demand. 

Appearing at the Hay Festival, he told The Independent: ‘I think one of the reasons why we’ve seen so many staff striking in such great numbers, is not just because demands haven’t been met, but actually the lack of respect and care they’ve been shown. 

‘So I know it’s a hard message for junior doctors to hear when I say we can’t afford 35 per cent at this stage.

‘But I think contained in that honesty is the respect that junior doctors deserve, because I want to work with them if we’re in government in a way in which we’re honest with each other and respectful. 

‘And so I’ve said the journey to fair pay is exactly that. It’s a journey, not an event, we will have to negotiate on pay and beyond pay.’

The fresh wave of strike action comes four months after the last walk-out by junior medics. Thousands took to picket lines for five days' worth of industrial action that caused huge disruption across the NHS. Pictured, junior doctors in January outside the Royal Victoria Infirmary

The fresh wave of strike action comes four months after the last walk-out by junior medics. Thousands took to picket lines for five days’ worth of industrial action that caused huge disruption across the NHS. Pictured, junior doctors in January outside the Royal Victoria Infirmary 

Junior doctors in their first year now have a basic pay of £32,300, while those with three years' experience make £43,900. The most senior earn £63,100

Junior doctors in their first year now have a basic pay of £32,300, while those with three years’ experience make £43,900. The most senior earn £63,100

Responding to the BMA’s announcement today, Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive at NHS Providers, said the strikes ‘mark a worrying escalation in the long dispute’.

She added: ‘This strike will inevitably hit patients hard. 

‘As always, trust leaders and their teams will do everything they can to protect patient safety. 

‘They will spend countless hours preparing for the walkout, which includes cancelling and rescheduling appointments. 

‘This is time they would prefer to spend improving patient care and tackling sky-high waiting lists. 

‘Resolving the industrial dispute must now be a top priority. Not doing so will come at too high a price for patients and the NHS itself.’

She said: ‘Nearly 1.5 million appointments have been delayed since industrial action began, with strikes having now cost the NHS an estimated £3billion. 

‘We cannot go on like this. Politicians and unions must urgently find a way to resolve all disputes for the sake of patients, staff and the NHS.’

Junior doctors in their first year now have a basic pay of £32,300, while those with three years’ experience make £43,900. The most senior earn £63,100. 

Ministers previously offered junior doctors an 8.8 per cent pay rise, on average, for the 2023/24 financial year. 

However, the uplift was higher for first year medics, who were given a 10.3 per cent boost.

Junior doctors in their first year now have a basic pay of £32,300, while those with three years' experience make £43,900. The most senior earn £63,100. Ministers previously offered junior doctors an 8.8 per cent pay rise, on average, for the 2023/24 financial year

Junior doctors in their first year now have a basic pay of £32,300, while those with three years’ experience make £43,900. The most senior earn £63,100. Ministers previously offered junior doctors an 8.8 per cent pay rise, on average, for the 2023/24 financial year 

The Royal College of Nursing's (RCN) chief executive and general secretary Professor Pat Cullen today also announced she had stepped down after eight years in her role to seek election in parliament. The Northern Irish nurse is hoping to be nominated as a Sinn Féin candidate for the Fermanagh and South Tyrone constituency

The Royal College of Nursing’s (RCN) chief executive and general secretary Professor Pat Cullen today also announced she had stepped down after eight years in her role to seek election in parliament. The Northern Irish nurse is hoping to be nominated as a Sinn Féin candidate for the Fermanagh and South Tyrone constituency

Ministers insisted this was the final offer. But Ms Atkins offered medics an additional 3 per cent on top of this rise. 

But the union said at the time this improved sum was still ‘completely insufficient’.

In April consultants in England accepted a Government offer, drawing a line under an industrial dispute that has dragged on for more than a year. 

It comes as the Royal College of Nursing’s (RCN) chief executive and general secretary Professor Pat Cullen today also announced she had stepped down after eight years in her role to seek election in parliament. 

The Northern Irish nurse is hoping to be nominated as a Sinn Féin candidate for the Fermanagh and South Tyrone constituency.

She said: ‘This was the hardest decision to make, and we have achieved so much in three very different and difficult years. 

‘I hope my legacy here will be to have helped the nursing profession use its voice and campaign for change, for ourselves and patients. I owe RCN members a debt of gratitude.’

The RCN held eight days of strike action in 2022 and 2023. 

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