Jeremy Corbyn will not visit junior doctors on the picket line as they protest across England over new contracts. A spokesman for the Labour leader simply replied "no" when IBTimes UK asked if the left-winger would be appearing alongside the British Medical Association (BMA) members on 12 January. A spokesman for Heidi Alexander also told IBTimes UK that the shadow health secretary would not be visiting one of the pickets.
The development comes after Corbyn described the junior doctors as "hard working" and warned on BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the medics could leave the profession over the dispute. Elsewhere, Alexander said Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt should take "full responsibly" for the walkout.
"Nobody wants to see industrial action, not least junior doctors who have been backed into a corner by Hunt," she said. "[He] needs to take full responsibility for the anger he has caused amongst the very people who keep our NHS running. There is only one person patients should blame for Tuesday's industrial action and that's Hunt."
But despite Corbyn's and Alexander's non-attendance at the BMA pickets, members of the Fire Brigades Union, Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union and Public and Commercial Services Union, among other unions, are expected to protest alongside the junior doctors. Momentum, the pro-Corbyn campaign group, is also urging it supporters to join the BMA's demonstrations.
Meanwhile, David Cameron has urged the medics to call the "dangerous" industrial action off. "I would say to junior doctors, look at the evidence being put in front of you," the prime minister reportedly said on 11 January after a major speech on opportunity and life chances for young people.
When will the junior doctors strike?
Junior doctors will only provide emergency care from 8am (GMT) on 12 January to 8am on 13 January (24 hours), and between 8am on 26 January to 8am on 28 January (48 hours). The actions will be followed by a full walkout on 10 February when the medics will strike between 8am and 5pm.