The British Medical Association (BMA) have announced that there are strikes planned for junior doctors from 20th-22nd September and 2nd-4th October 2023.
Not every hospital will be affected by strikes and strikes will only be taking place in England currently.
You can find out more about what this could means for you and your treatment here.
What is the British Medical Association (BMA)?
The BMA is a trade union for UK doctors. They represent doctors both individually and as a group and work to negotiate their pay and rights and supporting them at work.
What is a strike?
A strike, sometimes called ‘industrial action’, is when people refuse to work for their employer.
This happens because the group are in a disagreement with their employers, and they haven’t been able to solve the issue with negotiations (conversations).
What is a junior doctor?
Junior doctors are qualified doctors in clinical training. In the UK, junior doctors are qualified doctors who are working in practice and doing postgraduate training. Being a junior doctor starts from qualifying as a doctor and finishes when they become a Consultant, a GP, or they’re in a non-training post. Junior doctors don’t work on their own, they work under the supervision of a senior doctor (also known as a consultant).
Why are junior doctors striking?
Junior doctors will be striking over pay. They are asking for a pay increase to make up for the fact they haven’t had pay increases in line with inflation since 2008.
How long will junior doctors be striking for?
Strikes are currently planned for junior doctors from 20th - 22nd September and 2nd - 4th October. We will keep this page updated if any additional dates are added in the future.
What does ‘Christmas Day cover’ mean?
You might have seen that on some of the strike days junior doctors and consultants will both be taking strike action. On Wednesday 20th September and Monday 2nd, 3rd and 4th October junior doctors and consultants will be providing what is called ‘Christmas Day cover’.
This means that elective (care that is planned in advance) or non-emergency work will be cancelled but anyone who is on call is expected to work. Emergency departments will still operate as usual on these days.
The NHS have been preparing for these strikes and some appointments, tests and planned care may have been moved or cancelled.
If you have an appointment on these days you should still go as planned unless you have been told otherwise by your care team.
Even if teams in your hospital are striking it’s important you still go into the hospital if you need urgent medical attention.
How might this impact my cancer treatment?
Young people with cancer are at the heart of everything we do at Teenage Cancer Trust, and we understand that you might be worried about what the junior doctors’ strike means for you and your treatment.
It’s important to remember that wherever you’re being treated the safety of patients is always the most important thing. During any NHS strikes life-preserving services will carry on.
Other staff members, like consultants and doctors who aren’t on strike, will fill in where they can on strike days.
If you want to understand more about how the strike might affect your treatment you should speak to your care team who will be able to advise what’s happening at your local hospital. We have included some advice on how to do this below.
We will update this page with any new information.
Can I speak to my doctors about the strike?
If you have any questions about anything to do with your diagnosis or treatment you should always be able to speak to your care team, including your doctors. Don’t forget that you’re not alone and there are lots of people whose job it is to support you and help you get through this,
If you’re finding it difficult to take in all the information you’re being told you can always ask questions. Your care team are used to explaining things a lot of times. Don’t worry about asking too many questions, it’s important you understand what’s going on.
If you have questions about the strikes and how it might impact you but you don’t feel comfortable talking to your doctor you could try asking your parent or carer if they can to support you with these conversations. Or, they might be able to speak to them themselves and tell you what’s been said.
It can often help to write things down so you don’t forget what’s been said – you can do this on a piece of paper or in the notes section of your phone if you have one.
If I have an appointment on one of the junior doctor strike days will it be cancelled?
If you’re scheduled to go into hospital for an appointment on one of the days junior doctors are striking then you should speak to you care team to find out if your appointment will be affected by the strike action.
What do I do if I have a health emergency on one of the junior doctor strike days?
If you have an emergency medical situation you should always go to A&E to get medical help. If you’re not able to get to A&E yourself, you should ring 999 and ask for an ambulance.
Where can I go for more support?
If you have any concerns or questions about your treatment or care you should always be able to speak to your care team.
We have lots of information about diagnosis, types of cancer and types of treatment in our information section. Cancer doesn’t just affect your body – it can affect your mind, thoughts and emotions and if you’re finding this time overwhelming we have some information to support you here. There are lots of other places that you can turn to for support as well, find out more on our useful contacts page.