- By Michelle Roberts
- Digital health editor
Young doctors in the UK will begin their longest protest today, against pay.
They said the government’s refusal to negotiate ahead of the five-day strike was “confusing” and “frustrating”.
Health Secretary Steve Barclay said doctors’ demands to pay 35% were “unreasonable” and the strike jeopardized patient safety.
Thousands of scheduled appointments are being postponed as emergency and urgent care take precedence.
The strike begins at 07:00 on Thursday, July 13 and ends at 07:00 on Tuesday, July 18.
NHS England said anyone needing care during the strike should use 999 or A&E in the event of a life-threatening emergency and – for smaller health concerns – contact the NHS 111 online or go to your nearest pharmacy.
Everyone will be contacted if their appointment has to be rescheduled. Appointments with GPs and the community do not appear to be affected.
NHS England chief medical officer Stephen Powis said the health service was “entering an extremely busy, disruptive period” and staff were doing all they could to maintain service and address complaints. backlog of patients awaiting appointment or treatment.
More than 600,000 NHS appointments in the UK have been canceled or postponed due to strikes by doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers in recent months.
‘The excruciating pain is like a hot volcano in my knee’
Richard McKenzie, a marketing executive from Berkshire, has been agonizingly awaiting new knee surgery that was scheduled for today, but was postponed because of the strike.
“The pain is like there’s a hot volcano in your knee and someone pokes a hot needle into that hot volcano. It’s horrible,” he said.
“That means you can’t sleep, you can’t rest – and I can’t think either,” he said. “Either I have to take so much pain medication that I can’t think.”
He says his condition “absolutely” affects his life: “When you’re in pain all the time, you get cranky, it affects relationships, it affects the way you are. work, it makes you cranky. It’s always there and you can’t get away from it.”
Richard is not confident his surgery will take place on the scheduled date in a few weeks.
And he worries about the impact of the continued delays on his job, which requires frequent travel to Germany.
Why are the doctors on strike?
Young doctors say the pay increases they have received over the past 15 years are well below inflation and now need a 35% raise to make up for that.
The British Medical Association (BMA), which represents doctors, said the government’s offer of a 5% pay rise was not “credible”.
About 86% of British Medical Association members support the latest strikes, the fourth by junior doctors in the UK since the pay dispute began.
Young doctors make up around half of hospital doctors in the UK and a quarter of all doctors working in GP surgeries. The BMA represents more than 46,000 young doctors in the UK.
Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said the 35 per cent pay requirement of young doctors in the UK “risks fueling inflation, leaving people poorer”.
“If the BMA shows a willingness to make substantial changes to their current pay requirements and cancel these damaging and disruptive strikes, then we can talk to find an agreement,” he said. fair agreement to resolve this dispute”.
The BMA’s grassroots doctors’ committee called on the government to “reassess their entrenched position” and return to negotiations.
Consultants will provide what is described as “Christmas Day coverage” – urgent care will be provided, along with a very limited amount of routine work.
In addition to the strikes, hospitals have faced other challenges in getting back to full capacity since Covid hit. These include staff shortages, more emergency patients, and problems that leave patients out of the hospital because of a lack of care in the community.
More than 7.3 million people are on the waiting list at the moment – nearly 3 million more than before the pandemic.
One in 20 people have to wait more than a year – although the NHS is close to eliminating waiting times of more than 18 months.
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