The BMA voted yesterday to stage five consecutive days of strikes later this month, running from September 12 to 16.
It took the step after rejecting the terms of a new contract for junior doctors tabled by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who, after a protracted battled with medics, said the contract would be imposed anyway.
Ellen McCourt, who chairs the BMA’s junior doctors committee, said her union could not “stand idly by” as the date for imposition drew nearer.
She added that forcing a contract on doctors which they did not have confidence in would be bad for patients.
But Hunt rebutted the suggestion, saying the NHS needed to offer a better “consistency of services” at weekends.
“Doctors, even on the other side to me in this dispute, recognise that we need to do better in terms of consistency of services offered at weekends,” he told Sky News on Thursday.
“They should be sitting round and talking with us, not choosing this path of confrontation.”
Reaction to news of the new set of strikes has been mixed, with many medics rallying against Hunt but some newspapers blasting the “outrageous” and “disgraceful” industrial action.
NHS staff accused the government of watching the health service “burn” and accused Hunt of showing it “utter disdain”.