Joint statement by Jane Dacre, president of the RCP and Dr Carol Postlethwaite, chair of the Trainees Committee of the RCP

Joint statement on the eve of the junior doctor's strike  

Tomorrow will be the first ever day of a complete withdrawal of labour by doctors in training in the UK. This is an awful situation for patients, doctors and the NHS to be facing and is one that reflects the level of distress junior doctors feel currently. No doctor wants to strike, and each will have struggled with their conscience to arrive at their decision. Their concerns are not just about the impact of the contract today, but are about the implications for the NHS in the future.

Across the country there are not enough doctors to cover the current clinical workload, in particular the acute on call work.  Many shifts are unfilled representing a significant risk to patient safety. Every day, trainees and consultants alike are asked to work extra shifts to cover these gaps.

We are under-doctored, underfunded and overstretched.  Junior doctors already work seven days per week in acute and emergency care.  If we are serious about delivering more services over seven days then we need to recruit more clinical staff.  Doctors are moving to other countries for more supportive working and learning environments and many are considering leaving medicine entirely. They do not feel safe, valued or supported and the imposition of the contract is the final straw. This is a tragedy for the NHS and a colossal loss of potential.

We are now at a stalemate between the Government and the BMA, where the patients ultimately are the losers. It is vital that meaningful negotiation resumes to address the many issues still outstanding regarding the delivery of a new junior doctor contract. Only then can we start to rebuild morale, heal the workforce and deliver safer, excellent healthcare to our patients.  

Our guidance on on how trusts can value their trainees can be found on our website.