JUNIOR doctors have gone on strike across the region over proposed changes to their contracts which they say would be unsafe, unfair, and bad for the health service.

Picket lines appeared outside York, Scarborough and Harrogate Hospitals from early this morning, in the row over working hours.

The 24-hour period of ‘emergency care only’ staffing is being carried out among juniors taking industrial action over the Government’s proposed changes to their contracts.

Speaking outside York Hospital, Dr Melody Redman said: "We are striking because we want a contract that is fair for doctors and safe for patients. We're frustrated the Government have backed us into a corner. 

"We are here because we believe this contract is detrimental to the whole of the NHS."

Dr Kirsty Suddes, a trainee GP, said: "I finish as a trainee in August and the contract change won't necessarily affect me but there's such difficulty in attracting people to GP training and it will impact on that. Undersubscribed specialities will suffer even further." 

As thousands of junior doctors went on strike across England today - covering more than 160 picket lines - Jeremy Hunt insisted doctors were getting a "fair deal" as he described the latest strike as "very damaging".

The Health Secretary said the last remaining issue to be resolved with the British Medical Association (BMA) related to pay on Saturdays.

And he insisted there had been "no rejection of any proposals and plans" that would deal with the "weekend effect" of more patients dying at weekends.

Striking doctors in York today have gone on to run first aid classes at Millthorpe School and to hold a stall in Parliament Street to discuss the strikes with the public.

Emergency cover will not be affected with some 35 per cent of junior doctors continuing to work in A&E, intensive care and in other crucial roles, Dr Redman said.

Holding a banner at the picket line outside York Hospital, Dr Robin Hughes said: "It's a sad state of affairs when the continuing threat to the NHS is our own Health Secretary."