JUNIOR doctors across the UK are taking part in the longest-ever strike action in the history of the NHS.

As previously reported, doctors are striking to achieve a 35 per cent pay increase, and are currently on the second day of a six-day strike running from Wednesday, January 3 to Tuesday, January 9.

However, despite the industrial action, there was no picket line outside Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital. 

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Sir Julien Hartley, chief executive of NHS Providers, told BBC Breakfast: “It’s going to be really tough, it’s a significant moment. It’s about the scale and the duration… So it’s the longest strike we’ve ever faced.

“I ran a trust for many years and (this week) is without doubt, the toughest week the NHS faces (each year) – immediately after the Christmas and New Year period because of the pressures the demands, and of course we’ve got flu, we’ve got Covid.

“So there’s going to be an impact on patients that will be significant – the vast majority of planned operations appointments and so on, will have to be stood down, consultants will be covering the work of junior doctors, and of course at a time when there’s a lot of Covid and flu about, that can affect staff as well as patients so the challenge of filling those rotas will be significant for a lot of organisations.”

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However, Dr Robert Laurenson, the co-chair of the British Medical Association’s (BMA) junior doctors committee, argued that there is “no good time to strike”.

He said: “The only reason the Government will even entertain talks with us is because we have strike action.”

Dr Laurenson added that the BMA is “happy to negotiate anytime, anywhere”.

He added: “I’m happy to negotiate right now. I’ll walk down to Westminster, I’ll sit down with (Health Secretary) Victoria Atkins if she wants to sit down with us, but she doesn’t. She’s pushed us out of the negotiation room.

“The fact of the matter is we don’t have enough doctors. So the Government’s answer to that is apparently to cut our pay, but that’s just going to drive more doctors away.”