Young doctors start three-day strike

Tens of thousands of young doctors go on a three-day strike over pay and working conditions.

Members of the British Medical Association (BMA) in England will picket outside hospitals across the country in the longest stretch of industrial action by junior doctors ever.

This is preceded by multi-union strikes on Budget Day, one of the largest single days of industrial action in years.

Workers taking action include civil servants, teachers, university staff, London Tube drivers and BBC journalists. Rallies are being held across the country, with a large protest in Westminster.

Public sector unions have criticized the government for its handling of wage disputes that have been escalating for months.

NHS Executives have said they are concerned the strike will take disruption caused by recent strikes to the next level, pose a risk to patient safety and set back work to reduce the supply backlog.

Talks between the government and other health unions continue this week in hopes of a breakthrough in the long-running NHS pay dispute.

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The BMA said newly qualified medics earn £14.09 an hour, less than a barista in a cafe, adding that young doctors in England have suffered a 26% real pay cut since 2008/09.

An advertising campaign launched by the union reads: “Pret a Manger has announced it will pay up to £14.10 an hour. A junior doctor only earns £14.09.

“Thanks to this government, you can serve more coffee than you save patients. This week junior doctors will be on strike to be paid what they are worth.”

dr Robert Laurenson and Dr. Vivek Trivedi, co-chair of BMA’s Junior Doctors Committee, said: “Is £14.09 an hour really worth all junior doctors? and accumulated around £100,000 worth of debt in the process.

“We wholeheartedly support any worker who gets an inflationary pay rise, and it’s worth reflecting on the fact that the government has slashed junior doctor’s salaries so much that they could be making more by serving coffee.

“Is it surprising that young doctors are looking for jobs abroad or in other fields when the government tells them they are worth more than a quarter less than they were in 2008?

“The loss of such valuable clinicians to other countries and professions, as waiting lists soar to record highs, means patients will suffer even more than they already are.

“That’s why the doctors are on strike. We’re fighting to get our pay back. We fight to restore our value. We are fighting to restore our workforce to get the NHS back to being an effective healthcare system.”

“Very disappointing,” says PM

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told reporters, “It is very disappointing that the junior doctors’ union does not cooperate with the government.

“We are actually having a constructive dialogue with other unions who have accepted our offer to come in and talk about it.

“As you have seen with the Bahn…they have made an offer to their members, we are having a constructive dialogue with the nurses unions and all other health unions and I would urge the junior doctors to follow suit and accept the government’s offer, to come and have talks, the other unions have done that and we’re making progress.”

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