NHS Anticipates Most Disruptive Strike To Date


Junior doctors are beginning a four-day strike across the UK that will lead to approximately 350,000 canceled appointments. This comes as part of an ongoing fight for fair pay, and follows a 72-hour stoppage by NHS staff last month. 

This current strike marks the current longest industrial action in the health service since nurses, ambulance crews and other health workers took action last year. Members of the British Medical Association (BMA) are heading the strike, while NHS managers warn that patient care is “on a knife-edge”.

Why Are Junior Doctors On Strike?

Junior doctors in England are on strike due to concerns about their pay and working conditions, as well as the impact these issues are having on patient safety. The British Medical Association (BMA), which represents junior doctors, is calling for a 35% pay rise to compensate for years of below-inflation wage increases, financial assistance for employees and to help address recruitment and retention issues in the profession. 

The BMA has estimated that the pay of junior doctors has dropped by 26% in real terms over the past 15 years due to the fact that pay is not keeping up with inflation. Junior doctors are only paid £66.55 for a potentially life-saving procedure, and £14.09 for smaller procedures. 

Junior doctors argue that their current pay levels are leading to many doctors leaving the profession, which in turn is putting increased pressure on those who remain, and compromising patient care. The BMA has also expressed concerns about long working hours and understaffing in the NHS, and is calling for measures to address these issues as well.

The UK government has expressed concern about the impact of the junior doctors’ strike on patients, and has criticised the British Medical Association’s demands for a 35% pay rise as being “unreasonable”. The government has also argued that the pay demand is out of step with deals other health unions have recommended to their members. 

While the government has said that it recognizes the important work that junior doctors do, it has also highlighted the financial pressures facing the NHS, and the need to balance the interests of patients and taxpayers with the demands of healthcare workers. Some critics of the government’s stance argue that it reflects a broader trend of underfunding and privatisation in the NHS, which is leading to widespread staff shortages and declining standards of care.

How Will the Junior Doctor Strike Affect Patients?

This strike is expected to be even more disruptive than the previous 72-hour strike, which led to 175,000 canceled appointments. Up to 350,000 appointments and operations may be canceled this week.

Some hospitals even say that up to half of planned treatment is affected. Mental health services and some GP surgeries are also expected to be most impacted, while the NHS said it will prioritise keeping critical care, maternity, neonatal care and trauma operations running. Everyone needing urgent care is expected to receive it. 

The public has been urged to use the NHS’s services wisely or consider getting private medical insurance, even for the short-term. Consultants are expected to take up the work that junior doctors are usually expected to do. As junior doctors make up around 40% of the medical staff in most NHS medical facilities, this is expected to put a huge amount of pressure on consultants. Routine care will be affected, which is expected to take weeks to recover from. 

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of The Political Anthropologist.