Junior physicians were advised to go on a picnic during the 5-day NHS strike.


Junior medics will walk away from their NHS jobs for five days from tomorrow in their latest strike over pay.  Pictured here is a medic at a rally during the last 72-hour break last month

Young doctors have been told to take advantage of the longest strike in NHS history to go on a picnic, a barbecue or a five-a-side football match.

Union leaders have told members they don’t have to be on picket lines all five days if they walk out from 7 a.m. tomorrow because “picketing can be hard work.”

Instead, they are advised to collect only from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. on the first day – then “switch off” by spending time with friends and family.

The union action will see up to 47,600 medics below the rank of consultant refusing to provide any care, including in emergency and cancer departments, and pushes NHS waiting lists to a record high of 7.4 million.

But the British Medical Association says it’s a “valuable use of time” to take some “rest time” during the strike and doctors shouldn’t feel it as “indulgent or wrong.”

Junior medics will walk away from their NHS jobs for five days from tomorrow in their latest strike over pay. Pictured here is a medic at a rally during the last 72-hour break last month

Health bosses were forced to cancel 108,602 appointments and surgeries when junior doctors withdrew care for three days in June, including from cancer wards and ER.  It brought the total number of postponements due to strike action by doctors in training, nurses and physiotherapists since December to 651,232

Health bosses were forced to cancel 108,602 appointments and surgeries when junior doctors withdrew care for three days in June, including from cancer wards and ER. It brought the total number of postponements due to strike action by doctors in training, nurses and physiotherapists since December to 651,232

It provides members with some ‘inspiration’ for things to do, such as ‘get some fresh air and take a strike walk with colleagues’ and organize a 5v5 match – ‘soccer, rounders, netball, whatever you like’.

Other ideas include “go to the local park,” “get a book out to curl up on the couch or in the yard if you have one,” and “have a picnic or BBQ with your friends.”

Since December, more than 650,000 appointments and surgeries have been canceled due to NHS industrial action, including strikes by junior doctors, nurses, physiotherapists and paramedics.

The physician assistants are demanding a 35 percent wage increase that negates inflation as part of a one-year agreement or 49 percent over two years.

Talks with ministers have failed over claims that the union refused to budge on its opening position.

Consultants, who have also closed their own payroll with the government, will strike on July 20 and 21, although they will provide ‘Christmas Day’ coverage, meaning they will only provide emergency and urgent care.

Due to the combined action, the total number of cancellations is expected to exceed 1 million.

Consultants have admitted they are using patients and long waiting lists as ‘leverage’ to secure a 35 percent wage increase and reform of the pay monitoring body, which advises ministers on their pay.

NHS England chief executive Amanda Pritchard has warned that the double whammy of strikes poses a ‘real challenge’ to the service and ‘cannot drag on’.

Dr. Rob Lawrence and Dr. Vivek Trivedi, co-chairs of the BMA’s arts committee, said the strikes have taken their toll “physically, mentally and financially”.

In a message to members on the BMA website, they said, ‘Picketing can be hard work so we want to make sure you have some time for rest and recovery.

“This time we are not asking you to picket all five days, we are asking you to come down only on Thursdays between 8am and 10am to support the picket lines.

“This way we can come together to show our solidarity with each other, but also give doctors a chance to recharge and prepare to go back to work.

“Especially on weekends, use your free time to switch off, whether that’s seeing friends and family, going out, or staying home.”

“None of us want to go on strike, but there are many ways to use the time to support your mental and physical well-being.”

They say the ‘one thing’ doctors should bear in mind is that there is the ‘possibility of anomalies’ which could prompt them to return to work in the event of a major incident, so they are advised ‘to stay in place’.

And the pair add, “Don’t let anyone make you feel that it’s indulgent or wrong to take some rest during this period of strike.”

“The most important thing you can do is withdraw your labor.

‘We are struggling with an ever-increasing workload, increasing pressure and cuts in our wages.

The union behind the strike has suggested that medics use the time to go on a picnic, have a barbecue or host a 5-a-side soccer game (stock image)

The union behind the strike has suggested that medics use the time to go on a picnic, have a barbecue or host a 5-a-side soccer game (stock image)

‘Not being exhausted and stressed is the key to getting the best out of yourself.

In addition, we will have to use every last ounce of our resilience in the coming months to bring this campaign to a successful conclusion.

“We know you have the stamina for the road ahead, but it’s essential to take time out whenever you get the chance.”

The leaders say members are free to peck all five days if they wish, but stress that there is “no pressure to do so,” adding: “Spending social time with your colleagues on these days is also a valuable use of your time. .

“Stay together, hit together, win together.”

The BMA has been accused of hypocrisy for cutting the wages of its own staff and demanding a 35 percent wage increase for its members.

The medical union wants taxpayers to fund higher salaries for doctors, who have brought the NHS to its knees with a series of devastating strikes.

But at the same time it has slashed its own workers’ wages by about a fifth in real terms since 2011 and has said it needs to consider its “financial constraints” before agreeing to an increase.

The BMA staff is represented by the GMB union, which aims to ‘restore wages’ to 2011 levels when the current pay system was introduced.

It says those with lower salaries have seen their income fall by 18.4 percent and those with higher salaries by 15 percent.