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NHS CRISIS

Junior doctors in England plan more strikes in fight for better pay

Health Secretary Matt Hancock attends the opening of the NHS Nightingale Hospital in London, 3 April 2020. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Will Oliver)

Junior doctors in England plan to stage more strikes in June, their union said, meaning more strain for the state-run health service, NHS, after pay negotiations with the government collapsed on Monday without a resolution.

The strikes will be from 13 to 17 June, the British Medical Association (BMA), which represents about 45,000 junior doctors in England, said in a statement, threatening strikes “throughout the summer” if the government did not change its position.

Tens of thousands of junior doctors have already staged two rounds of walkouts this year to demand wage increases that match inflation, which as of last month was still running into double digits. The government has said such pay rises would only inflame inflation further, pushing up interest rates and mortgages.

The BMA describes junior doctors as those who are qualified in clinical training and have up to eight years’ experience working as a hospital doctor or up to three years in general practice. They work under the supervision of a senior doctor.

Strikes by healthcare workers in the National Health Service (NHS), which have also included walkouts by nurses and ambulance workers, have led to the cancellation of numerous appointments, disrupting patient care at a time when millions are waiting for treatment.

“These will be hugely disruptive for patients and put pressure on other NHS staff,” a government spokesperson said in a statement responding to the latest strike plan, adding they were ready to continue talks if strikes were called off.

The BMA said the government’s latest pay offer of a 5% increase for 2023/24 was not a credible offer since it was “nowhere near addressing pay erosion over the last 15 years”.

(Reporting by Muvija M; Editing by Mark Porter and Jonathan Oatis.)

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