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Doctors and nurses in the UK may be forced to work during strikes under government plans to introduce minimum service levels to protect patient safety, Health Secretary Steve Barclay has announced.

Ministers have outlined the proposals, with advisers due to start a new round of wage strike action on Tuesday and junior doctors taking action on Wednesday. Wednesday will be their first joint strike at the same time.

The Government will consult on regulations to ensure that minimum NHS staffing levels apply to emergency, emergency and time-critical services.

This may cover some hospital staff including doctors and nurses, the health department said, adding that the arrangements could be implemented from next year.

The government move follows parliamentary approval of an anti-strike law, which unions claim does not comply with international legal standards.

The legislation aims to introduce minimum service levels in eight economic sectors.

When the bill was announced in January, the government said the arrangements would be implemented for ambulance, fire and rail services.

It added that it hoped to reach voluntary agreements on five other areas covered by anti-strike laws: education, border security, nuclear decommissioning and other health and transport services.

Barclays said on Tuesday that “coordinated and planned strike action will cause further disruption and distress to patients and NHS colleagues” this week.

He added that his priority was to protect patients and “these regulations will provide a safety net for (NHS) trusts and reassure the public that vital health services will be available when they need them”.

Barclays said average junior doctor pay will rise by 8.8% this year, while consultants will receive a 6% rise “along with generous changes to their pensions”.

Nearly 900,000 NHS appointments or hospital surgeries in England have had to be rescheduled since staff began a pay strike in December.

BMA council chairman Phil Banfield said the doctors’ union had made it clear that any strike action by members would maintain minimum levels of staffing to ensure patient safety.

He added: “We have always believed that consultants and junior doctors would never go on a general strike together and we have made it clear that we do not intend to do so and emergency and emergency care will continue. The Secretary of State would be dishonest to say otherwise. of.”

Banfield accused the government of “trying to stifle doctors’ right to collective action and fight for better pay and conditions in the workplace”.

Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents health organizations across England, said the move to impose minimum service levels could lead to a deterioration in industrial relations at a time when we need the government and unions to sit down and negotiate to avoid a deterioration in industrial relations. Further escalating and disrupting patient care”.

“This legislation, and the consultation announced today, does not address any of the underlying issues surrounding the current strike action, including grievances over pay and working conditions,” she added.

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