Report by Kamgar Ekta Committee (KEC) correspondent
Junior doctors in the UK are on a strike from 11th to 15th April to press for their demand of 35% pay rise to bring their real wages at par with 2008-09 levels.
Junior doctor members of both the British Medical Association (BMA) and the Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association (HCSA) are taking part in the strike.
Junior doctors in the NHS are taking strike action to:
- Achieve full pay restoration to reverse the steep decline in pay faced by them since 2008/9. (They have experienced a cut of more than 25% to their salaries since 2008/09);
- Agree on a mechanism with the Government to prevent any future declines against the cost of living and inflation;
- Reform the DDRB (Doctors’ and Dentists’ Review Body) process so pay increases can be recommended independently and fairly to safeguard the recruitment and retention of junior doctors;
According to the BMA, the lack of investment in wages by the Government has made it harder to recruit and retain junior doctors. This puts further pressure on the NHS and makes it harder to deliver care to the standards expected by patients.
Thousands of junior doctors had also staged a three-day strike on 13-15 March 2023.
In addition to pay, working conditions and services also need urgent attention and improvement. Poor conditions and services have led to deterioration in patient care all along.
Junior doctors pointed out that their skills were neither valued nor rewarded as their pay was allowed to devalue by over a quarter in the last 15 years.
A junior doctor of 7 years’ service, speaking anonymously, said, “Since I started the hospital has become ever busier, especially since the COVID outbreak. There is a massive burnout, not just with junior doctors, but across the board, including consultants and other grades and all health workers. We have all been out on strike across the NHS and I see it as us all being involved in the same struggle.”
A striking doctor said, “The huge growth in waiting lists for treatment [70 lakh] sits with the Conservative government who have decimated the NHS. We have been screaming from the rafters for many years and governments have ignored us.”
Authorities have yet to initiate a dialogue to discuss the demands of junior doctors.
“The government has dragged its feet at every opportunity. It has not made any credible offer and is refusing to accept that there is any case for pay restoration, describing our central demand as ‘unrealistic’ and ‘unaffordable’”, said Dr Robert Laurenson and Dr Vivek Trevedi, the co-chairs of the BMA’s junior doctors committee.
Dr Naru Narayanan, the president of the HCSA said ministers had “seen fit to ignore the overwhelming support among junior doctors for this dispute driven by year after year of real-terms pay cuts”.