A JUNIOR doctor says if the government pledges more cash towards a 24/7 NHS, medics will make it work.

Rachel Clarke, who works at the county’s hospitals, said if the Department of Health (DoH) hires more doctors then the health service could be manned seven days a week.

Her comments come two days before the second junior doctors’ strike, when thousands of medics will down tools over government plans to impose a new contract on them.

Dr Clarke welcomed the British Medical Association’s (BMA) decision to reduce the planned industrial action from a full withdrawal of services to 24 hours of emergency care only.

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She said: “My feeling is that by going back to emergency cover only, we are still making a very, very strong political point – that junior doctors are absolutely united against this contract – without in any way jeopardising the safety of our patients.

“That’s something I feel much more comfortable about.”

Junior doctors will set up picket lines across the UK from 8am on Wednesday in the second strike over the contract dispute.

More than 37,000 junior doctors across the country, including 2,000 in the Thames Valley, voted in favour of industrial action last year, although a planned strike in December was halted the day before when talks reopened.

The row centres on health secretary Jeremy Hunt’s plans to impose a new contract on junior doctors as part of plans to create more 24/7 services.

But the BMA says the new contract is unsafe for staff and patients because it will stretch limited resources more thinly across the NHS.

Dr Clarke said the only way to avoid further strikes and create the seven-day services envisioned by Mr Hunt would be if the government coughed up more cash.

She added: “One solution would be to say ‘of course we would all like a better working week, the government’s part of delivering that could be to fund it’ and if we have more doctors then we, the doctors will deliver it.

“At the moment all we have from the government is very inflammatory rhetoric.

“We want what’s best for our patients and we need government to help deliver that.

“I would love it to be the last day of industrial action, but I fear it might not be.”

The BMA previously suspended plans for 48-hour action on January 26 on the basis that some progress was being made in the talks.

But the sticking point remains the time at which premium rates of pay kick in for doctors working weekends.

In an open letter to BMA chairman Dr Mark Porter, Mr Hunt said he was “sorry to learn” of the BMA’s decision to go ahead with a strike, and “disappointed” it felt it could not negotiate.

He said the government and NHS employers had “made a significant offer” on when premium rate pay should kick in for doctors working on Saturdays.

Mr Hunt added: “Our door remains open and I hope that you will continue to reflect on the value of further discussions.”