Junior doctors are set to strike in March for three days and the health service will struggle as a result of the walkout.
The British Medical Association (BMA) said the doctors had “no option” and they will strike from March 13.
Over the past week junior doctors have called on the Health Secretary twice to meet with them, but no date has been set with Steve Barclay.
NHS Confederation chief executive Matthew Taylor he told BBC Radio 4’s The World At One, “This is news NHS leaders were dreading. I think this action will be extremely difficult for us to manage.
“We are going to have to – as we did in the last junior doctors’ strike – ask consultants to take on a greater load.
“The problem is the consultants themselves are having an indicative ballot, so it is very unclear the degree to which consultants will necessarily be willing to fill in for junior doctors.
“If you take out 40% of the medical workforce, it is going to have a huge impact.”
The co-chairs of the BMA junior doctors’ committee, Dr Rob Laurenson and Dr Vivek Trivedi, said everyone must know the blame for the strike action “lies squarely at the Government’s door.”
They said, “Make no mistake, this strike was absolutely in the Government’s gift to avert; they know it, we know it and our patients also need to know it.
“We have tried, since last summer, to get each Health Secretary we have had round the negotiating table. We have written many times and, even as late as yesterday, we were hopeful Steve Barclay would recognise the need to meet with us to find a workable solution that could have averted this strike.
“We have not been told why we have not been offered intensive negotiations nor what we need to do for the government to begin negotiations with us. We are left with no option but to proceed with this action.
“The fact that so many junior doctors in England have voted yes for strike action should leave Ministers in absolutely no doubt what we have known for a long time and have been trying to tell them, we are demoralised, angry and no longer willing to work for wages that have seen a real terms decline of over 26% in the past 15 years.
“This, together with the stress and exhaustion of working in an NHS in crisis, has brought us to this moment, brought us to a 72-hour walk out.
“How, in all conscience, can the Health Secretary continue to put his head in the sand and hope that by not meeting with us, this crisis of his Government’s making, will somehow just disappear?
“It won’t, and patients and the public will continue to feel the brunt of his inaction, until he starts to negotiate with us and we agree a deal that truly values junior doctors and pays us what we are worth.”