Barts Unite strikers. Photo: Paula Mitchell
Barts Unite strikers. Photo: Paula Mitchell

Join the doctors’ march on the Tory party conference: Tuesday 3 October, 1-3pm, St Peter’s Square, Manchester


On 20 September, junior and consultant doctors struck together for the first time. Juniors also struck on 21 and 22 September, and consultants on 19 September. They will strike together again on 2, 3 and 4 October.

Katie Simpson reports that Northampton Hospital’s junior doctors gathered on the picket line demanding better pay and conditions. One junior doctor stated: “We’re all extremely dedicated to patient care. We don’t want to strike but we’re short staffed, people are leaving and soon we won’t have an NHS to fight for.”

Elaine Brunskill reports that there was a mood of militancy on the picket line at the Royal Victoria Infirmary Hospital in Newcastle. Seeing our Socialist papers, one of the junior doctors commented that she was a socialist.

She spoke about wanting to get rid of the Tories, but had no faith in Starmer’s Labour. She also mentioned that, in past strikes, Labour MPs had visited their picket lines, but more recently they’d had no support from any local Labour MPs. Alongside striking for fair pay, these doctors are fighting for a vastly improved, fully funded NHS.


A Society of Radiographers rep

Radiographers are also taking strike action on 3 October and joining the doctors on the demonstration in Manchester. We are angry and overworked, struggling with staff shortages and student debt. We don’t just need a decent pay rise, we need bursaries so we can train the new staff we desperately need! Most patients need scans and X-rays. The Tories talk about cutting waiting lists – not without more radiographers they won’t!

  • Midwifery support workers have also been on strike in Bristol, members of the GMB. Roger Thomas reported a superb mood and tremendous support from the public.

Barts: ‘Don’t let them divide us’

Domestics, porters, caterers, security staff and ward hosts have taken over a week of strike action at Barts Health Trust in East London. Unite coordinated that action with workers striking at three other health trusts on one of the days, with striking refuse workers, and with doctors’ strikes.

Unless there is progress, the workers will be out again with the doctors on 2, 3 and 4 October. The strike is over the national pay offer but also local pay issues, including the withholding of a lump-sum payment from some groups of workers following their transfer back into the NHS from private employer Serco.

Big noisy picket lines have been supplemented with daily rallies at each of the hospital sites.

Unite branch secretary and Socialist Party member Len Hockey, speaking at one of the Whitechapel rallies

“Doctors have had a 35% real-terms reduction in pay. Our members have, over the same period, lost up to a fifth of their income. We’ve seen degradation and running down of the health service, which binds together the question of health workers’ pay with the quality of care delivered.

“Never let them divide us. It’s a shame that more MPs aren’t standing with us today, and instead are seeking to drive a wedge between the workers in the health service and the patients we serve. Our families depend on the health service. The truth is that well-organised hospitals with lots of union reps is the surest guarantee of quality of care for patients.

“My branch has got a record, time and again, of beating the profiteers. We never reconciled to working for private contractors, and so we seized the opportunity last year when Serco were going, in no small part due to the opposition they got from us as a union.

We said, when they go there’s only one option: bring us back in-house. And we succeeded, through the picket line, in winning that.

“Racism is inherent in the decision to outsource. And now we’re seeing our brothers and sisters denied the lump-sum payment, and that racism being perpetrated this time to direct employees.

“We have been told in negotiations in the last 24 hours, ‘Our hands are tied’. That we will never accept. It’s a choice you make. Whose lump sum? Our lump sum!”