Young doctors strike ‘worst ever’, resulting in 175,000 cancellations

The young doctors staged a 72-hour strike that began Monday (PA)

The young doctors staged a 72-hour strike that began Monday (PA)

More than 175,000 patient appointments and procedures have been canceled across England as a result of junior doctors’ strikes this week.

The 72-hour strike that began on Monday has subsequently become the NHS’s most disruptive strike of the year.

NHS England Medical Director Sir Stephen Powis said the strike was of “unprecedented proportions”.

He told the BBC it was having “a bigger impact than any other industrial action we’ve seen combined so far this winter”.

Mr Powis said more than 175,000 appointments and procedures have been postponed to protect emergency, critical care and emergency care for patients “which will inevitably impact efforts to tackle the Covid backlog”.

Some cancellations included hip and knee surgeries, as well as routine checkups for diabetics and cancer patients, the BBC reports.

Tens of thousands of junior doctors ended the strike at 8am Thursday amid a bitter wage dispute with the government.

At St George’s, Epsom and St Helier hospitals in south-west London, more than 1,000 people came to their emergency rooms over the course of Monday – despite requests that A&E should only go to A&E during the strike in the event of a medical emergency. That’s one person every 90 seconds.

The NHS has tried to tackle a backlog exacerbated by the pandemic, but England still has 7.2million people on waiting lists for treatment.

Nurses, rescue workers and physiotherapists have all taken industrial action this winter.

Doctors leaders and ministers are being urged to begin formal pay talks after a landmark deal is struck with other NHS workers in England.

The British Medical Association (BMA) is understood to meet with ministers next week to start negotiations on pay.

The union is calling for a “reinstatement of pay” for young doctors, who may have many years of experience and make up about 45 percent of the medical workforce.

Their wages have fallen by 26 per cent in real terms since 2008/09 and reversing this would require a 35.3 per cent wage increase.

dr Vivek Trivedi, co-chair of the BMA, said on Thursday: “We were ready to talk months ago. Our formal dispute began over 150 days ago and that’s what I mean when I say it’s disappointing that Steve Barclay has taken so long to get to the negotiating table.

“I just hope he comes in good faith and with a negotiating mandate.”

Thursday’s offer for other NHS staff – backed by the Royal College of Nursing, the GMB and Unison – includes a one-off lump sum payment for 2022/23, the value of which increases in NHS salary bands, as well as a permanent 5 per cent increase in all pay points for 2023/24.

Days of talks between health unions and the government ensued, raising hopes that the longstanding dispute could be ended.

Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab said on Thursday the government hopes to reach a similar salary agreement with young doctors.

A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “We deeply regret that over 175,000 appointments and procedures have been canceled this week, despite the pause in our offer to start formal talks on the conditional strikes.

“However, we are pleased that the BMA has now accepted our offer to start talks on the same terms as with Agenda for Change unions – which ended positively this week.

“We want to find a fair deal that recognizes the crucial role of junior doctors and the broader economic pressures the UK is facing, as we have done with other unions.”


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