Junior Doctors on strike in March 2023. Photo: Hugo Pierre
Junior Doctors on strike in March 2023. Photo: Hugo Pierre

For a fully funded inflation-proof pay rise

Matt, NHS nurse

For the third time this year junior doctors in England are once again taking strike action. Walking out from 7am 14 June to 7am 17 June, over appalling pay and working conditions.

Junior doctors have had their pay cut by over a quarter in real terms since 2009. Some are paid just £14.09 an hour according to their union the British Medical Association (BMA).

And on top of that, NHS underfunding means an even bigger workload for all staff. Doctors regularly work unsafe hours, some over 70 hours a week!

Reports last year indicated that over 12,000 doctor and 50,000 nurse vacancies had been left unfilled. This causes real issues with patient safety. Pay is a major reason the NHS isn’t recruiting and retaining doctors and nurses. Anyone who works in the NHS will have had discussions about pay, and how betrayed we feel by the government and the pay deals offered.

The BMA has been offered a 5% pay rise by the government. This doesn’t come close to the real-terms cut over years, and definitely isn’t enough to match inflation this year.

Royal College of Nursing (RCN) members, despite their leadership recommending they accept, rightly rejected the inadequate pay offer. The RCN is re-balloting its members in England for strike action to continue the fight for the pay nurses deserve. If RCN members can deliver a resounding ‘yes’ vote then an escalation of action is a must. In Wales, RCN members are already out on strike again.

So far, doctors and nurses have taken strike action on different days. A real message to the government would be to unite the health strikes. Mass picket lines outside hospitals of doctors, nurses and Unite members, including ambulance workers, would show the strength of feeling and resolve NHS staff feel.

This could be part of campaigning for the TUC to unite all workers fighting for pay rises and the Tories’ attempts to attack our right to strike.

As a nurse I’m proud to stand alongside colleagues in their fight. Our NHS is in crisis, caused by repeated governments’ lack of investment, privatisations and attacks on our pay and conditions. We’ve fought off a pandemic, now we need to fight off the Tories and their insulting pay offers.