Liverpool junior doctors strike
Liverpool junior doctors strike

Junior doctors in the BMA started five days of strike action on Thursday 13 July. Hospital consultants in the BMA are on strike for the first time in 50 years on 20 and 21 July, and have set more dates for August. 

In response to the Tories’ “final” offer of a 6% pay increase, the BMA’s chair of council Philip Banfield said the offer “is exactly why so many doctors are feeling they have no option but to take industrial action”.

He said: “With an NHS in crisis, seven and a half million patients on waiting lists, chronic underfunding and doctors being directly targeted with offers of work in Australia, this government should not be supporting pay uplifts which don’t reverse years of sub-inflation pay awards.

“The political choices this government is making continue to make ordinary people sicker and poorer; that is an unconscionable position for a ‘civilised’ society to be in.”

Socialist Party members visited the junior doctor picket lines in support. Elaine Brunskill reports from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Gateshead:

Alongside striking for pay, junior doctors talked about their conditions at work. Long hours are the norm. The lack of staff means if anyone calls in sick there’s an expectation that the others will take up the slack; this is increasingly the case as hospital bosses tell them they are over budget for using locums.

It wasn’t surprising to hear some of these young doctors talking of the possibility of migrating to Australia or New Zealand. Drivers of cars and ambulances passing the picket line indicated their ongoing support with toots, waves and shout-outs.

A BMA rep in Sheffield says:

“The pay offer not only still equates to a real-terms pay cut to all grades – as is the case for majority of public sector workers – but the proposed funding source is unacceptable. Increasing the International Health Surcharge discriminates against migrant workers with these extortionate upfront fees, and adds another point of exploitation for workers that contribute so greatly to our public health service. As the government attempts to divide us, their actions only serve to unite us in our ongoing dispute.”