Jeremy Hunt and senior ministers have insisted they must win the battle with junior doctors, who are staging a historic walkout that will disrupt services including maternity, accident and emergency and intensive care.
The health secretary dashed any lingering hopes of a last-minute compromise when he told MPs that he was determined to impose the unpopular new contract to help turn the NHS into a seven-day service.
The strike is running from 8am to 5pm on Tuesday and Wednesday. A&E and maternity units will be staffed almost entirely by senior consultants as hospitals pull out the stops to ensure patient care is as safe as normal.
A very large majority of junior doctors are likely to strike, with only a tiny number expected to defy the picket lines, although the exact figures will be closely scrutinised. Read more