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It is with heavy hearts that junior doctors strike today against the Government’s proposed new contract.

Sadly, we believe this is our only option, after the Government’s continued refusal to put reason before politics in negotiating a fair solution for an already over stretched junior doctor workforce.

The BMA has been clear that we want to reach a negotiated agreement; we invited the Government to conciliatory Acas talks – which it originally refused; we cancelled planned strikes in December to continue talks; and we suspended a 48-hour strike in January in a bid to make further progress.

We have talked in good faith over the past few months, but have seen no willingness on the Government’s part to move on a core issue.

We have been misrepresented by the Government as a block to a seven-day NHS, but we already work every day of the week – day and night. What we are asking is that this is reflected in fair and affordable recognition of unsocial hours.

We deeply regret the disruption which today’s action will cause, and have changed the form of industrial action from a full walkout, to emergency cover only.

We’d like to thank the public for their continued support and want to reassure you that should you need care today, you will receive it; A&E will be staffed as normal, and junior doctors will be providing emergency care throughout the rest of the hospital.

Dr Ellen McCourt,

Junior doctor and

BMA representative for the North East