Tens of thousands of doctors in England start 'longest' strike in health system's historyMembers of the Unite union stand on the picket line outside Guys and St Thomas' Hospital during a 24 hour strike.
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The government, which is facing an array of strikes by public workers across many sectors, is standing firm in its belief that it won’t negotiate while the strikes are taking place.

LONDON: Britain’s state-funded health care service is facing what is being described as its longest-ever strike as tens of thousands of doctors in England commenced a five-day walkout over pay on Thursday.

Junior doctors, those who are in the early stages of their careers in the years after medical school, started their strike at 7 a.m., with many of them making their case for a 35% pay rise in picket lines outside hospitals across England.

The British Medical Association, the doctors’ union, has asked for a 35% pay rise to bring junior doctors’ pay back to 2008 levels once inflation is taken into account. Meanwhile, the workload of England’s 75,000 or so junior doctors has swelled as patient waiting lists for treatment are at record highs in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Today marks the start of the longest single walkout by doctors in the NHS’s history, but this is still not a record that needs to go into the history books,” said BMA leaders Dr Robert Laurenson and Dr Vivek Trivedi.

They urged the government to drop its “nonsensical precondition” of not talking whilst strikes are announced.

The government, which is facing an array of strikes by public workers across many sectors, is standing firm in its belief that it won’t negotiate while the strikes are taking place.

“This five-day walkout by junior doctors will have an impact on thousands of patients, put patient safety at risk and hamper efforts to cut NHS waiting lists,” said Health Secretary Steve Barclay. “A pay demand of 35% or more is unreasonable and risks fuelling inflation, which makes everyone poorer.”

Britain, like other countries, is grappling with high inflation for the first time in years. Price rises were first stoked by supply chain issues resulting from the pandemic and then by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which sent energy and food prices soaring. Though inflation has come down slightly from its peak of 8.7%, it remains far above the 2% level the Bank of England is tasked to target.


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