Sunday June 16, 2024

UK doctors' strike action: Double whammy for patients as juniors join seniors in pay raise protest

Numerous appointments and operations have been postponed due to the UK doctors' strike

By Web Desk
September 20, 2023
A group of doctors protesting low pay in England. — AFP
A group of doctors protesting low pay in England. — AFP

Hospital administrators issued a warning on Wednesday regarding the threat posed by the most recent UK doctors' strike, which marks the first time consultants and junior physicians have walked out simultaneously to protest low pay in England.

UK doctors' strike is underway as the largest cost of living crisis in a generation has left them and the government at odds over medical professionals' salary demands.

Numerous appointments and operations have been postponed due to the strikes over severe workloads and wage raises that are below inflation, which have added to the National Health Service's enormous pandemic backlog.

In previous strikes, junior doctors and consultants went on strike at different times so they could cover for one another.

"Consultants and junior doctors walking out together is the awful scenario health leaders have long feared," said Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents NHS organisations.

Since the beginning of the protracted series of walkouts, Taylor estimated that the strike may cause "well over a million" surgeries and appointments to be cancelled.

"Leaders will have pulled every lever available to them to mitigate the impact of this strike, but it is inevitable that patient safety is compromised," he said adding that the level of risk was the "highest we've seen for a long time".

Consultants began a two-day strike on Tuesday, and younger doctors joined them on Wednesday for a three-day walkout.

For October, additional coordinated strikes by young doctors and consultants are planned.

When compared to junior doctors, consultants are requesting salary awards this year that are above inflation (the rate of inflation was approximately 11% in April).

However, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has urged the physicians to end their strike and issued a warning that the government will no longer bargain over increased pay.

He said that the administration has agreed to independent pay review groups' recommendations for public sector compensation hikes ranging from 5.0% to 7.0%.

Since March, junior doctors have gone on strike six times. While since July, consultants have now left their jobs three times.

They are merely the most recent group to stage industrial action in the UK as prices for food, housing, and other necessities have skyrocketed as a result of rising inflation, joining attorneys and train drivers before them.

Nurses and ambulance workers have also gone on strike, and in May they finally agreed to a 5% salary increase.