England’s Hospital Doctors Launch New Strike

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Thousands of English hospital doctors began a four-day strike on Friday to demand better wages in the face of high inflation in the United Kingdom, a further social movement affecting a public health service already in crisis.
The “junior doctors”, a status ranging from young doctors just out of university to practitioners with more than eight years of experience, have been multiplying strikes in recent months, leading to the postponement of hundreds of thousands of appointments medical. Their last mobilization took place in mid-July.

The strike started Friday at 7 a.m. local (8 a.m. in Switzerland) will last until Tuesday morning.

In the United Kingdom, “junior doctors” represent around half of hospital doctors. The BMA (British Medical Association) union says they have lost 26% in pay in real terms since 2008, when cuts were imposed on health services as part of austerity policies. He is asking for a 35% wage increase, which the Conservative government opposes.

While inflation weighs on purchasing power in the United Kingdom, walkouts have been observed by nurses as well as doctors and paramedics.

Departures from the profession

According to figures from the British public health system NHS, nearly 835,000 medical appointments have had to be postponed due to the various strike movements since December 2022 in England, a number which should exceed one million with the current walkout.

Despite promises from British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s government to improve the situation, a total of 7.6 million people are awaiting treatment in England, a record.

“We have seen waiting lists swell for thirteen years because of this government”, the Conservatives having been in power since 2010, said Robert Laurenson, a doctor on strike on Friday. “To reduce these lists, you need doctors, and to have doctors, you have to remunerate them competitively”.

According to the striker, doctors are leaving the profession en masse “because [the government] continues to reduce their salaries”.

No new proposal from London
For British Health Minister Steve Barclay, the strike “only serves to harm patients” and puts “additional pressure” on non-striking staff.

“I want to have an adult conversation about how to resolve the legitimate frustrations that these doctors face,” he said in an op-ed in The Daily Mail tabloid. But “the strike will not help anyone achieve this and, in the end, it is the patients who bear the brunt of the walkouts”, he added.

The government says that its proposal presented in mid-July to the “junior doctors” – an increase of 6% and a bonus of 1250 pounds – is “final”.

“So far, we estimate that the strikes have cost around a billion pounds”, or around 1.12 billion francs, to the British health system, for his part indicated on the BBC Julian Hartley, responsible for the NHS, explaining that the institution had to pay “premiums to consultants to cover doctors” who were on strike.

This article is originally published on rts.ch

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