Young doctors launch strike ahead of week of multi-union strikes


Unior doctors will start a three-day strike on Monday ahead of a week of strikes that will include one of the biggest days of industrial action in years.

Members of the British Medical Association (BMA) in England will picket outside hospitals across the country in the longest strike period by junior doctors ever.

The BMA launched an advertising campaign saying young doctors could make more money “serving coffee than saving patients”.

Members of several unions will strike on Household Day in what will be one of the largest single industrial action days in years.

Workers taking action include civil servants, teachers, university staff, London Tube drivers and BBC journalists.

Rallies and demonstrations are taking place across the country, including a large protest in Westminster.

Public sector unions have criticized the government for its handling of wage disputes that have been escalating for months.

Progress has been made in Wales and Scotland after negotiations with ministers, but unions say the Westminster government is taking a completely different approach.

The BMA said newly qualified medics earn £14.09 an hour, less than a barista in a cafe, adding that young doctors in England have suffered a 26% cut in their pay in real terms since 2008/09.

An advertising campaign launched by the union reads: “Pret a Manger has announced it will pay up to £14.10 an hour. A resident earns just £14.09. Thanks to this government, you can serve more coffee than save patients. This week junior doctors will be on strike to be paid what they are worth.”

dr Becky Bates, a first-year resident in the Midlands, said: “I thought as a doctor I would be able to achieve financial independence, but instead I’m still completely dependent on others.

“With tuition loans, credit cards and personal loans, I left medical school with over £100,000 in debt and now my salary isn’t even enough to fix my car if something goes wrong.

I don’t come from money, but at 28 I’m relying on my mom to take on credit card debt to help me cover those expenses. It’s humiliating for me and it’s not fair to her

“I come from a single-parent family. I don’t come from money, but at 28 I’m relying on my mom to take on credit card debt to help me cover those expenses. It’s humiliating for me and it’s not fair to her.

“As an intern I can be responsible for 400+ patients overnight – assessing them, prescribing medication, having really difficult conversations with families about end-of-life care and being the first point of contact when something goes horribly wrong. Yet our abilities and responsibilities are completely devalued.

“My situation is far from unique and as such, I and the overwhelming majority of my colleagues have been forced to go on the picket line this week.”

dr Robert Laurenson and Dr. Vivek Trivedi, co-chair of BMA’s Junior Doctors Committee, said: “Is £14.09 an hour really worth all junior doctors? These are people who can provide life-saving care, have undergone intensive training in medical school and are in debt worth around £100,000 in the process.

“We are fully in favor of every worker getting a pay rise in line with inflation, and it’s worth reflecting on the fact that the government has slashed trainee doctor’s salaries so severely that they could be making more by serving coffee.

“Is it surprising that young doctors are looking for jobs abroad or in other fields when the government tells them they are worth more than a quarter less than they were in 2008?

“Losing such valuable clinicians to other countries and professions when waiting lists have reached record highs means patients will suffer even more than they already are.

“That’s why the doctors are on strike. We fight for the restoration of our wages. We fight to restore our value. We are fighting to restore our workforce to get the NHS back to being an effective healthcare system.”

We have worked closely with NHS England on contingency plans to protect patient safety during strikes, prioritizing emergency, emergency and critical care – but there will inevitably be some disruption to patients

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told reporters on his flight to the United States, “It is very disappointing that the Young Doctors Association does not cooperate with the government.

“We are actually having a constructive dialogue with other unions who have accepted our offer to come in and talk about it.

“As you have seen with the Bahn… they have made an offer to their members, we are having a constructive dialogue with nurses unions and all other unions in the healthcare sector and I would urge young doctors to follow suit and the Government’s offer come in and have talks, the other unions have done that and we are making progress.”

Steve Barclay, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, said: “It is incredibly disappointing that the British Medical Association (BMA) has rejected my offer to enter into formal salary negotiations on the condition that strikes are suspended.

“I appreciate the hard work of junior doctors and call on unions to come to the negotiating table and call off strikes that are jeopardizing patient safety and hampering efforts to tackle the backlog. I want to find a fair solution that recognizes the crucial role of junior doctors and the wider economic pressures the UK is facing.

“I have had constructive and meaningful talks with unions representing nurses, paramedics and other non-medical workers who have agreed to call off the strikes and negotiations continue this week.

“We have worked closely with NHS England on contingency plans to protect patient safety during strikes, prioritizing emergency, emergency and critical care – but there will inevitably be disruption to patients.”

NHS leaders said they were very concerned the young doctors’ strike would take the disruption caused by the recent strikes to the next level, pose a risk to patient safety and set back work to reduce the supply backlog.

Talks between the Government and other health unions continue this week, hoping for a breakthrough in the long-running NHS pay dispute.

London Underground services are paralyzed on Wednesday over pensions and working conditions following a strike by members of Aslef and the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union.

Finn Brennan, Aslef’s full-time underground organizer, said: “This is not a strike for pay or more time off. It’s about making sure that change and “modernization” happen consensually.

We are always ready to discuss and negotiate, but we must accept TfL that any change is not imposed but must be consensual

“The central government has used the impact of the pandemic to insist that Transport for London target staff pensions and working conditions.

“They have no problem bailing out the banks or handing out billions of pounds in dodgy contracts to their cronies, but they refuse to adequately fund vital services like public transport in this country.

“The Government wants London Underground workers to fill the hole they left in TfL’s budget by accepting huge cuts to their pension benefits and changes to working conditions that are destroying our work-life balance and their income in the world cut retirement.

“Aslef members are just not ready to accept that. That’s why we’re on strike this week.

“We are always ready to discuss and negotiate but TfL must accept that any change is not imposed but must be consensual.”

Rail services are disrupted at a number of train operators due to RMT strikes on Thursday and Saturday, which will lead to widespread cancellations.

Members of the GMB union who work for Amazon in Coventry are set to strike throughout the week in a wage dispute.

Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting said: “Rishi Sunak has learned nothing from his failed crackdown on strikes across the NHS, which have already resulted in 140,000 surgeries and appointments being canceled.

“He’s repeating the same mistakes again by refusing to deal with young doctors, the very doctors who are the future of the NHS.

“Patients will not forgive Rishi Sunak for not even trying to stop these strikes when they could be disastrous for patient safety.” Young doctors launch strike ahead of week of multi-union strikes

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