Young doctors in England are going on strike today – with a warning it will have a ‘huge impact on routine care for patients’.
The new 72-hour strike comes with warnings that doctors will strike all summer if the government does not move on its wage offer.
Here’s everything you need to know about the timing of the strike, why doctors are striking and how NHS care could be affected.
When is the strike?
Trainee doctors will strike from Wednesday June 14th 7:00 a.m. to Saturday June 17th 7:00 a.m. – 72 hours in total.
Up to 47,600 young doctors who are members of the British Medical Association (BMA) union will step down.
What impact will this have on NHS care?
According to Professor Sir Stephen Powis, National Medical Director of NHS England, almost all routine or pre-planned care could be affected in one way or another.
He said thousands of routine procedures had already been postponed, but called on people to go to appointments that weren’t rescheduled.
In April, a similar walkout of doctors in training saw 196,000 hospital appointments and pre-planned operations postponed.
The strike “will have a huge impact on routine care for patients and on the waiting list, as procedures can take time to reorganize with multiple teams involved”, Prof Powis said.
Emergency, urgent and critical care will be prioritized during the strike, he added.
Why are young doctors striking?
The BMA called the government’s 5% wage offer “paltry” and said the talks had become “unproductive”.
The union said junior doctors had suffered a 26% “wage erosion” over the past 15 years as their salaries failed to keep up with inflation.
They demanded a 35% wage increase to reverse this trend.
According to the BMA, four in ten young doctors are considering leaving the NHS, citing the current level of pay, deteriorating working conditions and eroding pay.
Is this the first time that young doctors have gone on strike – and will it be the last?
Junior doctors who are members of the BMA have walked out to 96 hours from April 11 to 15 and for 72 hours from March 13 to 15.
The BMA has threatened a summer of strikes if the government does not improve its offer.
“This means that we will call for at least three days of action each month for the duration of our industrial action mandate,” said Dr. Vivek Trivedi and Dr. Robert Laurenson, co-chairs of the BMA Junior Doctors Committee.
Young doctors in England are on strike – what about the rest of the UK?
Young doctors in Scotland are set to strike for three days in July after rejecting a salary offer from the Scottish Government.
The Welsh Government has agreed in principle to restoring the salaries of young doctors in Wales, who have also seen a pay cut in real terms of 26.1%. But the terms of this were not agreed and the BMA said it would prepare for strike action if necessary.
In Northern Ireland, the BMA said in May it would poll its members on pay and conditions and ask what members would be willing to do to drive change.
What does “junior doctor” mean?
A junior doctor is a qualified doctor who has graduated from medical school and is following a training path to become a specialist or general practitioner, according to the BMA.
Full-time training can take between 5 and 11 years – longer if done part-time.
Junior doctors make up around 45% of NHS medical staff and two-thirds of them are members of the BMA.
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What has the government said about the latest strikes?
Health Secretary Steve Barclay has insisted that ministers’ doors remain open, but accused the BMA’s Junior Doctors Committee of refusing to back down from their demand for the 35 per cent pay, despite the presence of a intermediary in the negotiations.
A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “Three more days of junior doctors’ strikes will put patient safety at risk and lead to further disruption and postponed treatment.
“We made a fair and reasonable opening offer to the BMA and were in active discussions on pay and non-pay issues.
“Unfortunately, it appears they are unwilling to move significantly away from unreasonable demands that would see doctors’ pay increase by 35% this year, or at least 49% by next year. which were the two proposals they put on the table.
“We are working with NHS England to put contingency plans in place to protect patient safety. The NHS will prioritize resources to protect emergency treatment, intensive care, neonatal care and trauma.”