Army medical staff are expected to be drafted into NHS hospitals as cover for striking junior doctors, according to a document uncovered by The Telegraph.
The first of three strikes by junior doctors is due to begin on Tuesday Dec 1, when only emergency care is planned, with full stoppages on Dec 8 and Dec 16.
It would be the first full walkouts by doctors in NHS history.
In official guidance on industrial action issued by the British Medical Association (BMA), it said it expects medics from the Armed Forces will be used to help plug the gap on strike days.
The BMA advises striking doctors manning picket lines to be friendly to Army doctors – not least because as military employees, they have no right to strike.
In the Guide to Safe Picketing, published by the BMA, the professional trade union states: “It is likely that our Armed Forces colleagues will be asked to step in to provide support for clinical services on the days of action.
“The law does not permit them to take part in industrial action, but their support for services during the industrial action is welcome.”
A BMA spokesman said: “We don’t expect there will be a huge number of Army turning up at hospitals, but we are expecting a number of Army medics.”
The spokesman added: “We want to keep the NHS going. We have said from the very, very beginning we didn’t want to get to the stage of strike action. But junior doctors feel they have no other way of getting their voices heard.”
Army Medics parade through the City of London during the Lord Mayor’s ShowArmy Medics parade through the City of London during the Lord Mayor’s Show Photo: PA
In the first strike, on Tuesday, doctors would offer emergency care only for 24 hours, while the following two strikes would mean a full walkout from 8am to 5pm.
It is expected that Army medical staff will cover Accident and Emergency services.
Department of Health officials remain locked in negotiations with unions.
Source The Telegraph