In England, doctors begin a new strike of unprecedented duration

'Junior doctors' hold signs outside St Thomas' Hospital, London on July 13, 2023.

An unprecedented length. Thousands of doctors began a five-day strike in England on Thursday July 13 to demand pay rises in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis. This mobilization does not concern the other nations of the United Kingdom. THE “junior doctors”a status similar to that of interns in France, began their new strike at 7 a.m. (8 a.m. in Paris) on Thursday, until Tuesday at the same time.

This is their longest continuous mobilization in the history of the NHS, the British public health service, which recently celebrated its 75th anniversary, according to the British Medical Association (BMA) union. This walkout takes place while the government must decide on wage increases in the public sector. Inflation remains stuck at 8.7%, the highest among G7 countries.

In addition, the unions won a legal victory on Thursday, after challenging a law authorizing the use of temporary workers to replace striking employees. The High Court in London ruled in favor of more than ten unions who believed that this law “weakens the right to strike”.

In the UK, the “junior doctors” account for about half of hospital doctors, ranging from young doctors just out of university to practitioners with more than eight years of experience. They have stepped up strikes in recent months, which has led to the postponement of many non-urgent appointments.

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“Total inflexibility” of the government

This Thursday ‘marks the start of the longest doctors’ strike in NHS history’BMA officials Robert Laurenson and Vivek Trivedi said before the strike began. “We can call off this strike if the UK government follows suit” from the Scottish Government, who made a new offer (of a salary increase) which led to a suspension of the movement. “Total Inflexibility” of the government is “puzzling” And ‘ultimately destructive for anyone who wants waiting lists down and NHS staff up’they added.

In a statement issued just before the start of the strike, the Secretary of State for Health, Stephen Barclay, judged ” disappointing “ that the union is carrying out this strike, the impact of which it has underlined on “thousands of patients”and who according to him will put their security ” in danger “ and will run counter to efforts to reduce waiting lists. An augmentation of “35% or more is unreasonable and risks fueling inflation, which makes everyone poorer”he added.

The BMA union claims that the “junior doctors” have lost 26% of pay, in real terms, since 2008, when an austerity package was imposed on health services. The NHS, to which the British are very attached, is going through a deep crisis, weakened by austerity policies and the consequences of the pandemic.

According to BMA figures, some 7.42 million people were awaiting treatment in England in April, with just over 3 million patients waiting for more than eighteen months. While inflation weighs on purchasing power in the United Kingdom, walkouts have been observed by nurses as well as doctors and paramedics. After the “junior doctors”THE “advisers”more qualified doctors, filed a strike notice for July 20 and 21.

Read also: In the UK, young doctors on strike for better salaries

The World with AFP


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