• Sunday, April 14, 2024

UK News

Junior doctors begin new five-day strike over pay dispute

Junior doctors attend a picket line outside the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle at the start of a six-day strike on January 03, 2024, in Newcastle upon Tyne, England (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)

By: Kimberly Rodrigues

Hospital junior doctors in England started a five-day strike on Saturday (24), continuing their extended dispute over pay with the government which shows little indication of resolution.

Junior doctors — those below specialist, consultant level — started joining picket lines from 0700 GMT, as part of a walkout that will last until the end of Wednesday (28).

It follows nearly a dozen strikes over the last year, which included the longest walkout — totalling six days — in the seven-decade history of Britain’s National Health Service (NHS).

The country has been hit by walkouts across various sectors over the last two years, as decades-high inflation in 2023 and a cost-of-living crisis led staff to demand pay rises to keep up with spiralling prices.

The British Medical Association (BMA) has been asking for 35 per cent “pay restoration” for junior doctors as its starting position, but insists it is willing to negotiate.

The government, which is responsible for health policy in England, has said the demands are unaffordable amid stretched public finances.

Health secretary Victoria Atkins on Saturday (24) accused the BMA committee representing junior doctors of refusing to put her latest offer to its members.

She insisted the government was “prepared to go further than the pay increase of up to 10.3 per cent that they have already received” and called for more talks.

But BMA junior doctors committee co-chairmen Robert Laurenson and Vivek Trivedi said they need “a credible pay offer” which would “begin reversing the pay cuts they have inflicted upon us for more than a decade”.

(AFP)

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