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Further NHS industrial action planned

View profile for Tom Mooney
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The blood scandal inquiry

Junior doctors are once more scheduled to strike next week over disputes relating to pay and working conditions (Wednesday 14 June to Saturday 17 June 2023). This follows previous industrial action in March and April.

The junior doctor strikes follow similar industrial action by ambulance staff and separately nurses in January, February and May.

A solution to the various standoffs does not appear to be any closer. The British Medical Association have warned that the strikes from junior doctors could continue throughout the summer unless an agreement is reached. In addition, members of the Royal College of Nursing are currently being balloted for further industrial action in June and July with such strikes once again likely to include NHS nurses in emergency departments, intensive care, cancer wards and other wards.

To date the country’s most senior doctors, consultants, have covered strike days for junior doctors but this has not been without its controversy with reports suggesting that consultants are demanding at least three times their basic pay to provide emergency cover. Indeed, the BMA has recommended that consultants should demand £158 per hour to work during the day and £262 per hour to work during night shifts.

With no resolution in sight for doctors and nurses, there is now the frightening prospect of consultants striking with senior doctors this week being balloted about a 48 hour walkout over pay. If consultants did vote in favour, it would be the first strike of senior doctors since the 1970s.

The consequence of any industrial action has a significant impact on public health. Indeed, in relation to the April junior doctor strikes alone, it is estimated that some 350,000 appointments (including operations) had to called because of the walkouts. Further action will inevitably increase waiting times, prolong suffering and potentially result in deaths. With the NHS already struggling to cope in the aftermath of the pandemic it is really concerning to think how it will manage to also catch up from the impact of the strikes (once a resolution between the parties is, hopefully, reached).

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