Junior doctors begin four-day strike

NHS workers on a picket
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Junior doctors are once again striking today over pay and conditions. Their four-day strike threatens to be the most serious action yet.

National medical director of NHS England, Stephen Powis, stated that:

This is set to be the most disruptive industrial action in NHS history, and the strikes tomorrow will bring immense pressures, coming on the back of a challenged extended bank holiday weekend for staff and services.

The NHS has been “preparing extensively” for the strikes, said Powis. However, he added that the task was made “much more difficult” due to the number of rescheduled appointments.

The walkout began at 7am on Tuesday 11 April, and will run until the morning of 15 April.

Breakdown in talks

Health secretary Steve Barclay claimed that it’s “unreasonable” to call for a 35% pay rise, claiming that this has led to a breakdown in talks.

However, since 2008, junior doctors’ pay has stagnated. This meant that their pay has fallen by 26% in real terms. So, when you factor in soaring inflation, the British Medical Association (BMA) is only really asking for a restoration in pay, rather than a real-terms pay rise.

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Mike Greenhalgh, deputy co-chair of the BMA’s Junior Doctors Committee, told BBC News that:

It’s hard to negotiate when only one side is doing it and we’re not getting anything back from the government on that front.

Public support for junior doctors

When it comes to negotiations, the Tory government will always do its best to stop the ball from rolling. It then has the audacity to blame workers for the state of the health service.

But as much as they want to turn the public against them, they’re failing. 54% of the population back striking junior doctors. This figure rises even higher for patients – 61% of people who have a health condition support the strike.

NHS workers are in desperate need of a pay rise. It’s estimated that nearly 5,000 of them use foodbanks on a daily basis, which is disgraceful.

The Canary has made this point before, but people clapped for the NHS during the pandemic, and the government thanked them. Former prime minister Boris Johnson even praised the NHS as Britain’s “greatest national asset”. But when it comes to actually compensating NHS workers, the government has shut down.

Claps and supportive words don’t pay the bills. It’s time the government reached into their pockets and start putting money where it’s needed – in the NHS.

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons/ Roger Blackwell, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license resized to 770*403

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