• Friday, April 12, 2024
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BusinessDay

Doctors strike cripples England in historic pay dispute

UK-doctors

In a historic move, England’s junior doctors are embarking on their longest-ever strike, throwing the National Health Service (NHS) into turmoil at a critical time.

Walking out for six days starting Wednesday, the action marks a significant escalation in the ongoing pay dispute between the young doctors and the UK government. The strike comes during the busiest winter period, adding further strain to an already overburdened NHS battling seasonal illnesses. This follows closely on the heels of a three-day strike just before Christmas.

With up to half of the medical workforce potentially joining picket lines, the NHS warned of “a significant impact on almost all routine care.” Dr. Stephen Powis, the NHS national medical director, called this January “one of the most difficult starts to the year the NHS has ever faced.”

The strike stems from a breakdown in talks over pay. The British Medical Association rejected the government’s offer of a 3% increase on top of an earlier 8.8% pay rise, deeming it unevenly distributed and ultimately amounting to pay cuts for many doctors.

Criticism for the strike came from Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and hospital leaders. While health policy is devolved within the UK, with Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland managing their systems, only England faces this extensive strike action. Junior doctors in Wales will hold a 72-hour strike later in January, and those in Northern Ireland are considering similar action.

In contrast, Scottish doctors reached a deal with their government in Edinburgh.

The strike coincides with the expected post-Christmas surge in hospital admissions, as people who delayed seeking treatment during the festive season finally come forward.

. The upcoming weeks will be crucial in determining the strike’s impact on patients and the ongoing negotiations between the doctors and the government.