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‘Militant’ leader of striking junior doctors can no longer join the picket lines himself after qualifying as a GP


The leader of the junior doctors’ strike can’t join the picket lines anymore after he qualified as a GP.

Dr Robert Laurenson was registered as a GP this month and will earn at least £70,000.

The strike leader has been demanding a 35 per cent pay rise for the junior doctors, who will strike for the tenth time tomorrow, lasting until Wednesday.

The 29-year-old will stay the co-chair until the end of his elected term in October, The Sun reported.

The leader of the BMA union’s Junior Doctors’ Committee was previously blasted for going on holiday during a BMA strike.

Dr Robert Laurenson can't join the picket lines anymore after he qualified as a GP

Dr Robert Laurenson can’t join the picket lines anymore after he qualified as a GP

Dr Laurenson has been the driving force behind a series of crippling strikes

Dr Laurenson has been the driving force behind a series of crippling strikes

The strike leader has been demanding a 35 per cent pay rise for the junior doctors, who will strike for the tenth time tomorrow, lasting until Wednesday

The strike leader has been demanding a 35 per cent pay rise for the junior doctors, who will strike for the tenth time tomorrow, lasting until Wednesday

Junior doctors participate in a picket line at St Thomas' Hospital on January 3, 2024 in London

Junior doctors participate in a picket line at St Thomas’ Hospital on January 3, 2024 in London 

Conservative MP Paul Bristow told The Sun that Dr Laurenson has ‘no skin in the game’ so he can prolong the strikes ‘while still getting paid’.

Dr Luke Evans, also a Tory MP and a former GP, added: ‘I wonder if swapping to a GP will change his perspective given his is directly responsible for his patients? They are the ones who will feel the brunt of this action.’

Official BMA picket line guidance for junior doctors reads: ‘Only join the picket if you are part of the dispute. Medical students, other doctors or hospital staff who are not included in the dispute should not join or form any part of an official picket line. 

‘When not on duty, they can visit the picket to provide logistical support (like bringing food).’

The union activist wants taxpayers to fund a 35 per cent pay rise for trainee medics, claiming many are considering quitting the NHS because they face ‘hardship at home’.

But Dr Laurenson himself faces less ‘hardship’ – title deeds from the Land Registry show he bought a flat in Newham, East London, for £484,000 in May 2019.

The property, on the site of the former West Ham United football stadium, is not mortgaged and is now valued at around £524,000.

Speaking in December 2022, he said: ‘Constantly worrying about how to pay our bills is leading many junior doctors to question their future in the NHS.

‘Junior doctors put their lives on the line to care for patients during the pandemic but this contribution has been ignored and morale is plummeting fast as many face hardship at home and a raw deal at work.’

Junior doctors are seen at the picket line outside St Thomas' Hospital in January 2024

Junior doctors are seen at the picket line outside St Thomas’ Hospital in January 2024 

Industrial action by the likes of doctors, nurses and physiotherapists has already affected more than one million appointments.

Rishi Sunak has awarded trainee medics a pay rise of six per cent plus a consolidated payment of £1,250, which is equivalent to an average increase of 8.1 per cent.

They will pocket the rise but have vowed to continue striking every month until they receive more, leaving patients on waiting lists in agony for longer.

In April last year, Dr Laurenson was facing calls for him to be sacked after he went on holiday during the most disruptive strike in NHS history.

He played a key role in plotting the four-day walkout, during which time up to 47,600 medics below the rank of consultant are refusing to deliver any services, including A&E and cancer care.

While junior doctors who fail to turn up to work when scheduled to attend will lose pay, those who are absent because they had booked it off as holiday will be paid.

Tory MP Mike Penning called for Dr Laurenson to be fired for his ‘hypocrisy’.

Dr Robert Laurenson, co-chairman of the union's junior doctor committee, came under fire for taking the week off to be at a friend's wedding

Dr Robert Laurenson, co-chairman of the union’s junior doctor committee, came under fire for taking the week off to be at a friend’s wedding

Firebrand union leader Dr Robert Laurenson went on holiday during the strike

Firebrand union leader Dr Robert Laurenson went on holiday during the strike

He said: ‘You can’t tell your members to give up pay and walk out on strike in pursuit of a large pay rise while you’re booking holiday – no matter how important the wedding. Going on holiday during a strike clearly shows he has no intention of negotiating for his members. You can’t negotiate during a wedding ceremony.’

Tory MP Paul Bristow, a member of the Commons health and social care committee, said: ‘Militant union leaders often demand their members take to the picket lines and lose pay but conveniently find a reason not to make the same sacrifice themselves.

‘Dr Laurenson should show solidarity by donating his salary to a fund that supports the union’s members or to a medical charity that can help patients impacted by the industrial action.’

He even came under fire from his own uncle who said at the time he ‘disagreed’ with his nephew’s conduct.

His uncle, also named Robert Laurenson, 72, a retired podiatrist, said: ‘They’re going on a four-day strike, what’s that about? I’ve got a hernia that’s not being treated.

‘I would like a 35 per cent increase on my pension. If they want 35 per cent, I want 35 per cent. I’ve worked 50 years in my business and come out with this, smallest house on the lane, I haven’t got a five-bedroom house.’



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