The junior doctors’ strike over salary is expected to result in the cancellation of thousands of NHS appointments in England.
The doctors’ 72-hour walkout will take place from Wednesday at 7 a.m. through Saturday at 7 a.m. They can have up to eight years of experience as hospital doctors or three years in general practice.
As the hot weather in the UK persists, more individuals may seek emergency assistance, NHS administrators have warned.
The junior doctors’ third strike of the year is anticipated to have a significant impact, forcing thousands of patients to reschedule surgeries and appointments while the total NHS waiting list lengthens.
Concerns concerning staffing have also been raised, with some consultants stating that they would refuse to cover a strike unless their employers agreed to a higher overtime rate.
The British Medical Association (BMA) claims that there has been a 26% pay drop and is demanding for the “full restoration” of that income. It claims that the Government has only given 5% to resolve the disagreement.
The co-chairmen of the BMA Junior Doctors’ Committee, Drs. Vivek Trivedi and Robert Laurenson, released the following statement: “Junior doctors are in despair at this Government’s reluctance to listen.
“It should never have taken two whole rounds of strike action to even put a number on the table, and for that number to be a 5% pay offer – in a year of double-digit inflation, itself another pay cut – beggars belief.
“We have made clear that junior doctors are looking for the full restoration of our pay, which has seen a 26% cut.
“Junior doctors in England have seen their pay cut in real terms by more than a quarter over the last 15 years.
“Today they are demonstrating what that means to the survival of the NHS.”
A BMA survey of 1,935 junior physicians in England indicated 53% are planning to leave the NHS or are considering leaving as a result of the Government’s response to industrial action, according to a report released on Wednesday.
67% of people believe the NHS won’t exist in its current form in ten years, and 88% believe it will deteriorate during the following 18 months.
Professor Philip Banfield, the chairman of the BMA council, has written to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak pleading with him to step in and mediate the conflict.
He said in the letter: “No doctor wants to strike.
“They have been forced to do so to try and get your government to listen and understand the realities of how desperate things have become on the frontline of the NHS …
“I urge you to listen to our doctors and to meet with me and our Junior Doctors’ Committee as soon as possible to find a way forward in this dispute.”
The BMA’s decision to continue its strike action was deemed “extremely disappointing” by Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay.
He said: “This 72-hour walkout will put patient safety and our efforts to cut waiting lists at risk.
“During recent meetings with representatives of the BMA Junior Doctors’ Committee, we made a fair and reasonable opening offer and were discussing both pay and non-pay issues until they chose to end the talks by announcing new strike dates.
“If the BMA cancels these damaging and disruptive strikes and shows willingness to move significantly from their position, we can resume confidential talks and find a way forward, as we have done with other unions.”
The BMA will hold rallies the rest of the week, including in Oxford, Birmingham, London, and Manchester. Doctors will join picket lines outside their hospitals on Wednesday.
The NHS Confederation’s acute network director, Rory Deighton, expressed concern about the strike’s effects to the PA news agency.
“The NHS has become used to managing the disruption caused by industrial action so patients should feel assured their local services are doing everything they can to prioritise those with the greatest clinical need and provide safe services for patients,” he said.
“However, each wave of strikes chips away at the NHS’s resilience, impacting on staff, internal relationships and their ability to deliver on government pledges to reduce the elective backlog.
“A particular challenge this time will be securing the level of consultant cover for absent junior doctors due to ongoing local negotiations on the overtime payments.
“In reality, this means that it is still uncertain exactly how many planned procedures and appointments will need to be scaled back and rescheduled.
“The national advice remains that patients should assume their care will continue unaffected unless told otherwise.
“With the BMA having announced its intention to re-ballot its members for a mandate for a further six months of strikes and with industrial action from consultants, radiographers and nurses a possibility, the short-term outlook feels gloomy.
“A resolution is desperately needed and we urge the Government to search for a resolution to this dispute.”
The national medical director of NHS England, Professor Sir Stephen Powis, stated earlier this week that the most recent strike might have some effect on practically all routine or planned care.
A similar junior doctor protest in April resulted in the rescheduling of 196,000 hospital appointments and scheduled operations.
Speaking on Wednesday, he said: “The NHS is facing significant disruption this week with a three-day strike that is set to be exacerbated by the ongoing hot weather – with the number of people seeking emergency care increasing as temperatures rise.
“While thousands of appointments are likely to be rescheduled due to strike action, the NHS will continue to prioritise urgent and emergency care, but with the country in the midst of a heatwave, the public can play their part by being sensible in the warm weather.
“For the vulnerable and elderly, this includes drinking plenty of water, using sunscreen and avoiding prolonged periods in the sun or swimming in unsafe water – and please do also consider checking in on any vulnerable friends, family members or neighbours who may struggle with the heat and humidity.
“People with conditions such as asthma should continue to use their inhalers.”