Junior doctors have begun a second 24-hour strike over safe working practices and changes to their pay structure after talks between the Department of Health and the British Medical Association (BMA) broke down.

The 24-hour walk-out began at 08:00 GMT this morning, during which time junior doctors will only provide emergency cover, similar to that offered on Christmas Day.

Nearly 3,000 operation have been rescheduled, with hundreds of appointments, check-ups, and tests are also expected to be disrupted as a result of the walk out.

The talks broke down in January, with the two sides unable to agree over the terms for working on Saturdays and changes to the pay structure.

The BMA says that evening and Saturday working hours should attract an unsociable hours premium, but ministers want to define Saturday and evenings as a standard working hours at basic rate pay.

This second round of industrial action, with little chance of agreement in sight, has caused increasing speculation that ministers may soon attempt to impose the new contract on junior doctors.

However, Health Minister Jeremy Hunt appears to have done little to improve his standing with the public over the matter, with two-thirds of the population in support of the junior doctors and BMA, according to a new poll by Ipsos MORI.

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