April 20, 2024 6:08 am
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Massive Walkout: UK Doctors Take Stand, Shaking Up Health Service

Hospital Doctors in England Stage Historic Five-Day Walkout

Hospital doctors in England have staged the largest walkout ever seen in the UK’s state-funded National Health Service (NHS). The unprecedented five-day strike, which began on Thursday, is a protest over pay and staff retention issues, and has raised concerns about patient safety. The NHS is already grappling with a significant backlog caused by the pandemic.

Junior doctor Arjan Sing, 27, spoke out about the strike, saying, “The NHS has been running on goodwill, and now this is the last chance to change that.” Sing also mentioned that many doctors are contemplating leaving for countries that value their healthcare professionals. He argued that doctors now realize they work in a global market and are not bound to one country.

The industrial action by junior doctors will continue until Tuesday morning. Over the past eight months, the NHS has seen various forms of industrial action by nurses, ambulance staff, and other medical workers, further exacerbating the strain on patient appointments. In addition, senior hospital doctors (consultants) in England are set to initiate a 48-hour strike from July 20, followed by radiographers from July 25.

The dispute between the junior doctors and the government stems from their demand to have their pay levels restored to the 2008-2009 rates. The British Medical Association’s Junior Doctors Committee claims that doctors have effectively experienced a 26% pay cut in real terms over the last 15 years due to salaries failing to keep pace with inflation. However, the government argues that backdating pay to reflect inflation since 2008 would be too costly, and instead offers an additional five percent increase.

BMA leaders Robert Laurenson and Vivek Trivedi expressed their frustration with the government’s approach, stating, “The complete inflexibility we see from the UK government today is baffling, frustrating, and ultimately destructive for everyone who wants waiting lists to go down and NHS staffing numbers to go up.”

Previous strikes in June and April resulted in significant disruption, with hundreds of thousands of hospital appointments and operations being rescheduled. The BMA reports that in April, around seven million people were waiting for treatment, with nearly three million waiting for over 18 months.

The outcome of this historic walkout remains uncertain, as doctors continue to fight for fair pay and improved working conditions within the NHS.

Source: AFP

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