Thanks for letting me strike, now I’ll be on holiday until after Christmas! Militant junior doctor gloats about festive time off because crippling three-day BMA walk-out coincides with NHS’ ‘busiest time of year’

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Written By Rivera Claudia

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  • Dr Andrew Lawson-Hughes is a first year junior doctor in Yorkshire 
  • He posted a smiling selfie on X with a message that read ‘God bless the BMA’ 

A junior doctor today gloated about being off until after Christmas — because he is taking part in the three-day strike designed to cripple hospitals during their busiest time of year.

Dr Andrew Lawson-Hughes posted a smiling selfie on X, formerly known as Twitter, along with a message that said: ‘God bless the BMA.’

Thousands of vital appointments and operations are expected to be cancelled due to the British Medical Association (BMA) action, piling further pressure on hospitals already juggling record backlogs and winter pressures.

Health leaders warned the ongoing strike, which began today at 7am and ends on Saturday morning, leaves patients safety in a ‘precarious state’.

Dr Lawson-Hughes, a first-year junior doctor in Yorkshire, has long been vocal in his support of the disruption. 

Dr Andrew Lawson-Hughes posted a smiling selfie on X, formerly known as Twitter , along with a message that said: ‘God bless the BMA.’ Thousands of vital appointments and operations are expected to be cancelled due to the British Medical Association (BMA) action, piling further pressure on hospitals already juggling record backlogs and winter pressures

Yesterday it was revealed that the A&E department at Cheltenham General Hospital has already closed until 8am on Saturday in an early sign of the widespread damage this week’s industrial action will cause

Yesterday it was revealed that the A&E department at Cheltenham General Hospital has already closed until 8am on Saturday in an early sign of the widespread damage this week’s industrial action will cause 

Discussing earlier BMA strike action in October, the 28-year-old said: ‘You can pull my cold dead body off the picket line before I’d do anything this shambles of a Government want.’

Dr Lawson-Hughes has only worked as a junior doctor since July, after graduating from a four-year degree at Birmingham University this summer. 

Junior doctors abandoned their posts today for three consecutive days, in action that threatens to cause ‘huge disruption’ to ‘almost all’ routine care.

Another six days of action — the longest in the health service’s 75-year history — are pencilled in from January 2. 

It is not known if Dr Lawson-Hughes took to hospital picket lines today. MailOnline has attempted to contact the doctor today but did not receive a response. 

Responding to his post on X, he was criticised for his wording ‘given the circumstances’.

One user, who claims to be a safety representative at the Royal College of Nursing, said: ‘I’m not sure this is the message that should be portrayed.’ 

The strikes come at the busiest time of the year for the NHS because of the surge in winter illnesses and staff holidays.

Yesterday it was revealed that the A&E department at Cheltenham General Hospital has already closed until 8am on Saturday in an early sign of the widespread damage this week’s industrial action will cause. 

Health bodies also fear thousands of patients are at risk of being stranded in hospital for Christmas.

Around 13,000 people a day who are deemed medically well enough to leave hospital are currently stuck on wards.

This is largely due to limited social care and community services capacity. 

The BMA rejected a last-minute plea from health charities, patient groups and NHS leaders for junior doctors to keep working this week in some areas of care. 

Responding to his post, the medic was criticsed for boasting 'given the circumstances'. In another message, one X user also wrote: 'Maybe it's worth reading this article; I'm not sure this is the message that should be portrayed'

Responding to his post, the medic was criticsed for boasting ‘given the circumstances’. In another message, one X user also wrote: ‘Maybe it’s worth reading this article; I’m not sure this is the message that should be portrayed’

NHS bosses had already warned that hospitals will operate at full capacity for just four weekdays until January 10. Only December 27, 28, 29 and January 2 are unaffected by the impending chaos of the holidays and walk-outs until January 10

NHS bosses had already warned that hospitals will operate at full capacity for just four weekdays until January 10. Only December 27, 28, 29 and January 2 are unaffected by the impending chaos of the holidays and walk-outs until January 10

Dr Robert Laurenson and Dr Vivek Trivedi, co-chairs of the BMA’s junior doctors committee, blamed the strike action instead on ‘unnecessary posturing’ by ministers which has delayed talks to resolve the dispute. 

They had been locked in negotiations for five weeks, trying to find a resolution to the long-running pay dispute.

But the union said its junior doctors committee voted unanimously for further strikes after accusing the Department for Health and Social Care of failing to put forward a ‘credible’ offer.

The BMA has claimed that junior doctors have seen their pay eroded by more than a quarter in real terms since 2008.

Trainee medics have been demanding full pay restoration — worth around 35 per cent — and have said they would not settle for anything less. 

In the summer, ministers had initially 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 insisted this was the final offer. But earlier this month Health Secretary Victoria Atkins offered the medics an additional 3 per cent on top of this rise.

Cheltenham General Hospital's unit shut this morning until 8am on December 23 ¿ shortly after the national three-day junior doctor strike ends

Cheltenham General Hospital’s unit shut this morning until 8am on December 23 – shortly after the national three-day junior doctor strike ends

Responding to strike action today, she said: ‘This Christmas, we know that these strikes if they continue today, tomorrow and on Friday, it will mean that people will stay in hospital longer than if the strikes had not happened because hospitals will not be able to discharge them. 

‘So there will be people spending Christmas in hospital rather than at home. That is an enormous cost for individuals and for their families. 

‘But also for other members of the healthcare service because junior doctors, the committee, appear to expect consultants and others to pick up their work for them. 

‘And I’m very conscious it’s been a tough year for all our clinicians. I want them to be able to enjoy their Christmas and enjoy their rest as much as we all want to but they’re going to be picking up the slack for these doctors that are on strike.’

But the BMA doubled down on its original demand for a 35 per cent salary hike and vowed to ‘not stop until we achieve full pay restoration’.

Nurses, physiotherapists and paramedics have all called off strikes following pay deals, while consultants are to vote on an offer their leaders have accepted. 

NHS strikes by doctors, nurses and other staff since last December are estimated have now cost the health service more than £2billion, NHS England said last week.

Bosses also believe more than 2million appointments have been lost due to walkouts.

WHAT IS THE TRUTH ABOUT JUNIOR DOCTORS’ PAY? 

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.

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