Politics, Europe

UK faces unprecedented strike action by health workers amid ongoing pay dispute

British Medical Association demanding substantial 35% pay increase for junior doctors

Aysu Bicer  | 20.09.2023 - Update : 21.09.2023
UK faces unprecedented strike action by health workers amid ongoing pay dispute unior doctors, consultants and supporters gather in front of the University College Hospital as they go on strike due to an ongoing salary dispute with the government in London, United Kingdom on September 20, 2023. ( Rasid Necati Aslim - Anadolu Agency )


In an unprecedented turn of events, consultants and junior doctors within England's National Health Service (NHS) have united in a joint strike, deepening the ongoing dispute over pay.

Consultants started their strike on Tuesday, with junior doctors joining them on Wednesday.

Organized by the British Medical Association (BMA), consultants embarked on a two-day strike, while junior doctors have planned a three-day protest.

Emergency care services will continue to operate during these strikes but concerns have been raised by NHS administrators regarding the potential risks to patients.

This situation represents a significant escalation in the long-standing conflict between the government and healthcare professionals, particularly doctors.

This marks the third occasion when consultants have staged a walkout, while junior doctors are undertaking their sixth strike. In each of these instances, routine medical work has been rescheduled, leading to significant disruptions within the NHS.

Reports from certain hospitals indicate that as much as half of their usual activities have been deferred due to these strikes.

Since December, nearly one million appointments and treatments, including critical cancer care, have been postponed due to industrial action, according to British media.

At the heart of these strikes is the issue of compensation.

The government has implemented a 6% pay increase for consultants and a 6% increment along with a lump sum of £1,250 ($1,546) for junior doctors.

It has firmly stated that there will be no additional offers.

On the other hand, the British Medical Association (BMA) has said junior doctors have experienced a 26% decline in wages between 2008 and 2022, to the point where newly qualified medical professionals are earning less than a barista at a coffee shop.

In response to this erosion, the BMA is demanding a substantial 35% pay increase for junior doctors, aiming to return their salaries to the levels of 2008-2009, a move they refer to as "pay restoration."

The BMA has previously expressed concerns that the government's lack of investment in wages has made it increasingly challenging to attract and retain junior doctors, posing potential long-term risks to the healthcare system.

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