STRIKING junior doctors will plunge hospitals into chaos for the second Christmas running.
They are set to walk out for three full days from 7am on December 20 after talks over their demand for a 35 per cent pay rise broke down.
It means they will be missing from A&E units over “Black Eye Friday” — the boozy and violent weekend before Christmas.
They will follow it with a record-breaking six-day strike from 7am January 3 to 7am on the 9th.
Sir Julian Hartley, chief of NHS Providers which represents hospital bosses, last night said: “This is what NHS trust leaders were dreading.
“This will be the longest strike in NHS history during the busiest and toughest time of the year. Patients will once again pay the price.
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“These strikes will undermine efforts to cut waiting lists and they will have a serious knock-on effect on services right across the NHS.”
This time last year nurses and ambulance crews kicked off 12 months of strike misery with their own walkouts.
Since then, more than one million appointments have been cancelled, £1.3billion has been spent on shift cover and half a million more people are on waiting lists.
Senior consultants struck a provisional deal last week with new Health Secretary Victoria Atkins after the promise of an extra £20,000 each.
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Nurses and ambulance staff have settled too — but the British Medical Association, representing the junior doctors, said ministers have failed to produce a “credible offer” since their last strike.
The trade union insists that pay has been eroded over years and is still pushing for “full restoration”.
Strike leaders Dr Robert Laurenson and Dr Vivek Trivedi called the latest breakdown “a great shame”.
But they insisted: “We have no choice but to take action that demonstrates doctors are as determined as ever in reversing their pay cuts.
“We can still avoid these strikes if a credible offer can be presented.”
Ms Atkins said: “It is disappointing that, despite significant progress, the BMA have walked away from negotiations and declared new strikes.
“These will result in more disruption for patients and extra pressure on NHS services and staff as we enter a busy period, risking patient safety.
“I have been clear that I respect the work of doctors in training and want to work with them to settle this dispute.”
On Sunday, she had spelled out: “Since December last year we have seen 1.1million appointments have to be rescheduled, so when I was appointed Health Secretary I wanted to try to address the industrial action with doctors.”
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Latest figures from September show 6.5million people in England alone are waiting for 7.77million operations and treatments.
This was up from 6.05million waiting for 7.19million procedures in November last year, before strikes began.
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