Junior doctors have announced a fresh wave of strikes due to an ongoing dispute with the government over pay. They are set to strike for five days from February 24th to 28th. This action comes after the government rejected the proposal by the British Medical Association (BMA), which represents junior doctors, for a 35% increase in pay.
The upcoming strike will be the tenth time junior doctors have staged industrial action since March of last year. The last strike was in January, lasting for six days, which was the longest strike ever in the history of the NHS. Over 100,000 appointments had to be canceled during that period.
Thousands of doctors are expected to participate in the strike from 7 AM on February 24th to 11:59 PM on February 28th. This decision to strike is a direct outcome of a meeting between Health Secretary Victoria Atkins and the BMA to resolve the pay dispute.
The BMA said that the government had “failed to meet the deadline to put an improved pay offer on the table.” They haven’t ruled out further strike action but have maintained that if a “credible offer” is presented by the government, the strike may be called off for the time being. Junior doctor committee co-chairs Dr. Robert Laurenson and Dr. Vivek Trivedi have issued a statement, stating, “We have made every effort to work with the Government in finding a fair solution to this dispute whilst trying to avoid strike action.” They also added that the glacial speed with which the Government is dealing with the issue is “frustrating and incomprehensible.”
Victoria Atkins has said, “This action called by the BMA Junior Doctor Committee does not signal that they are ready to be reasonable. We urged them to put an offer to their members, but they refused. Five days of action will put enormous pressure on the NHS and is not in the spirit of constructive dialogue.”
Close to 100,000 patients again face the threat of their appointments being canceled this month due to the strike. Health leaders expressed concern over the effect that this would have on trying to tackle record-high waiting lists and might push other services to a “breaking point.”
This action has also created fresh new pressure on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who has been accused multiple times of avoiding the issue and not dealing with it. Labour Party Leader Keir Starmer has commented on this issue, saying, “I think the public will be frustrated, bordering on angry, now with the prime minister for letting it drag on for so long.”
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