Junior doctors have launched a five-day strike in what is being described as the longest walkout of its kind in the NHS’s history amid ongoing protests over pay in the health service.
Members of the British Medical Association (BMA) in England mounted picket lines outside hospitals from 7am at the start of the walkout, which will cause huge disruption, affecting operations and consultations.
Members of the union Unite at Guy’s and St Thomas Hospital Trust in London are also striking over pay on Thursday, while hospital consultants and radiographers will take industrial action later this month.
The strikes are being held amid speculation the Government will say if it is going to accept recommendations from pay review bodies affecting public sector workers including teachers, civil servants and NHS workers.
There is speculation that the bodies have recommended rises of between 6% and 6.5%.
There will be renewed anger from unions if the Government rejects the recommendations or says money will have to be found from existing budgets.
BMA leaders urged the Government to return to the negotiating table in a bid to resolve the long-running row, which has already led to a series of strikes and thousands of cancelled operations and consultations.
BMA leaders Dr Robert Laurenson and Dr Vivek Trivedi said: “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.
“We can call this strike off today if the UK Government will simply follow the example of the government in Scotland and drop their nonsensical precondition of not talking whilst strikes are announced and produce an offer which is credible to the doctors they are speaking with.
“The pay offer on the table to junior doctors in Scotland and how it was reached throws into sharp relief the obstinate approach being taken by the Prime Minister and the Health Secretary, Steve Barclay.
Published: by Radio NewsHub