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Industrial Action Over Contract Imposition Is "Inevitable", Junior Doctors Leader Says

"The government has sorely underestimated what the impact of this announcement would have," Dr Johann Malawana told BuzzFeed News.

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Junior doctors leader Dr Johann Malawana has said more industrial action is "inevitable" in the wake of Jeremy Hunt's decision to impose a controversial new contract on them from August.

Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

Junior doctors protest outside the Department of Health.

Malawana told BuzzFeed News he was "trying to hold back the tidal wave" as British Medical Association (BMA) bosses discussed exactly what form the next round of industrial action would take.

"I have never seen so many angry doctors," he said.

Earlier this month, a full walkout by doctors was downgraded to a day of emergency care only as the government and the BMA attempted to reach a satisfactory resolution to junior doctors contract negotiations.

But now the health secretary has announced the controversial contract will be imposed against the wishes of the BMA, it is thought a full walkout could be back on.

"People are calling for forms and frequency of action I never thought I would hear about," Malawana said.

"I think the government have seriously, seriously underestimated how badly this is going down."

Tidal wave of calls from the profession in the last 24 hours is overwhelming. We will make the decisions necessary but action is inevitable

Last November more than 98% of junior doctors voted in favour of industrial action over the contract.

While doctors no longer have the protection from dismissal that particular ballot provided them, Malawana said they have an open mandate and are considering how to implement it, so a further ballot wouldn't necessarily be needed.

Prior to Hunt's imposition, a poll showed that 90% of 1,000 junior doctors surveyed said they would be willing to resign if the contract went ahead.

"I stand with the BMA and agree that they should consider any available options to fight imposition, as the implications to the future of the NHS are too great not to oppose this," junior doctor Amrita Jesurasa told BuzzFeed News.

Like many, she said a move to Australia felt like the only viable alternative to working under the contract for her and her husband, also a junior doctor.

"We have both been qualified for over 10 years and have invested too much to turn our backs on medicine," she said. "But we have a family and our children are obviously the most important commitment in our lives.

"If an imposed, unfair, unsafe contract goes through, I feel sure that there will be at the very least a silent exodus of doctors."

Laura Silver is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Laura Silver at laura.silver@buzzfeed.com.

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