The NHS will need to prepare for 20 working days of full strike action by junior doctors between now and Christmas, after the British Medical Association announced three further weeks of action by trainees in England.

Following yesterday’s announcement of strike action in September, the BMA said this afternoon that junior doctors would strike for a further five weekdays in each month to December. Doctors working in emergency services will be included in each period of strike action.

Dates for the strike action are: 

  • 12-16 September (announced yesterday);
  • 5, 6 and 7 October and the 10 and 11 of October;
  • 14-18 November; and
  • 5-9 December.

The dates were approved by the BMA council at a meeting yesterday. It narrowly supported the action by junior doctors with a vote split 16 to 14, sources told HSJ.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt today said up to 100,000 operations and 1 million appointments could be postponed by the first week of action.

Prime minister Theresa May today backed Mr Hunt, describing him as an “excellent health secretary” and accusing the BMA of “playing politics”.

BMA council chair Mark Porter responded by saying the government itself was playing politics.