England braces for 5-day strike over pay by junior hospital doctors
As the dispute over wages continues, hospital doctors in England launch the longest strike in the National Health Service's (NHS) history.
According to the British Medical Association, junior doctors will strike for five days, starting at 7:00 am (0600 GMT) on July 13 and ending at the same time on July 18.
Following a 72-hour strike this month in protest of the government's refusal to modify its offer of a 5% salary increase, knowing that the stoppage comes just after the NHS celebrates its 75th anniversary.
Medical professionals claim that over the past 15 years, their real compensation has decreased by 26% as wages have not kept up with inflation.
They want the salary to be returned to levels seen in 2008-2009, but the government claims that doing so would be too expensive and result in average pay awards of roughly 35% this year.
The BMA Junior Doctors' Committee, co-chaired by Robert Laurenson and Vivek Trivedi, said the government appears focused on allowing the NHS to "decline to the point of collapse."
They cited a BMA study in which it was shown that more than half (53%) of the roughly 2,000 junior physicians who replied had been approached about moving abroad in the previous four months.
They even claimed that the state government of South Australia had paid for advertising trucks to be dispatched to picket lines with offers of better remuneration if physicians emigrated.
According to Laurenson and Trivedi, the government's refusal to resume compensation negotiations compelled them to organize "the longest single walkout by doctors in the NHS's history."
They added that if the government makes a "credible offer" on wage restoration, the strike may be avoided.
Patient treatment has been impacted by a series of strikes by doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals over wage increases that are below inflation and working conditions, necessitating the cancellation or rescheduling of appointments.
According to health experts, it has disrupted services at a time when the service is working to clear a significant treatment backlog brought on by years of underfunding, understaffing, and the COVID pandemic.
On July 5, the NHS celebrates its 75th anniversary. It was established in 1948 to offer free healthcare "from the cradle to the grave" and is funded by general taxation.