Support for junior doctors begins to slip away as BMA calls off strike

Matthew SmithLead data journalist
September 05, 2016, 5:30 PM UTC

Public increasingly blame the BMA for the disputes as fewer people say that doctors are right to go on strike

The BMA has called off next week’s junior doctors’ strike, citing patient safety concerns. This may prove to be a prudent move, as new YouGov data reveals that the public increasingly believes that junior doctors are wrong to go on strike.

The gap between the number of people who think the strikes are right/wrong have narrowed significantly since the last survey YouGov conducted in April. Back then, 53% people thought that the doctors were right to go on strike and 29% thought they were wrong - a lead of 24 points in favour of the doctors. That lead has now narrowed to just 4 points, with 42% of people thinking that strike action is right and 38% think it is wrong.

The public are also increasingly blaming the BMA for the dispute, and less likely to blame the government (although they are still twice as likely to blame the government). But whilst more than half of people (52%) blamed the government for the strikes back in April, that figure has now fallen to 40%.

The number of people blaming the BMA, by contrast, has risen seven points to 16%. The number of people who blame both sides equally remains static on 27%.

Whilst the public may support the junior doctors’ cause in general, they are much less warm to the BMA’s new strategy of holding five day strikes (previous strikes were one or two days). Asked whether they supported strike action lasting for five days, 48% of the public opposed them, compared to 34% who supported them.

Although next week's strike has been called off, the BMA says that it still intends to go ahead with further five day strikes in October, November and December.

Photo: PA

See the full data here