THOUSANDS of new doctors, fresh out of medical school and who joined the English NHS only this month, are joining picket lines up and down the country. A fifth round of strike action by junior doctors in England began at 7am on 11 August, and is scheduled to continue until 7am on 15 August.
Dr Raymond Effah, a striking first year doctor who has just begun his first placement, said: “When I chose medicine as my career, never did I imagine my second week in the job would see me going on strike. The government may not see the value of myself and my doctor colleagues, but we do, leaving us no choice but to strike.
“As a medical student I have now gone through a pandemic, a cost-of-living crisis, and now have student debts of almost £100,000. Even with the 10 per cent pay uplift, I’m still starting in a job where real terms pay has eroded by more than a quarter. It makes me question why I started on this path in the first place: good will and a desire to help will take me only so far. We need to feel valued, and pay is an integral part of that.
“That is why first year doctors are going on strike today even though we have barely begun. It is for our future in this profession. We don’t want to be the generation that left the UK for greener pastures, we want those pastures to be right here at home. But if pay continues to erode as it has done for the last fifteen years, we are going to see more and more of our colleagues go.
“Instead of looking forward to long and productive careers in the NHS, we are going to wonder how many years it is worth staying. If the Government wants to keep us, it must come to the table now.”
Co-chairs of the junior doctors committee Dr Robert Laurenson and Dr Vivek Trivedi said: “We are now at the stage where a whole new cohort of junior doctors is entering the profession, only to be immediately given no choice by the UK Government but to go on strike for their future. The Government should be ashamed that this is the state of the profession they are presenting to our newest doctors.
“If they want a health service that retains this talent for decades to come, they need to come to the table – not in weeks, not in months, but today. This dispute should never have gone on so long. It has now been almost three months since the Government was last willing to talk to junior doctors about their pay. Since then, we have stated repeatedly that our door remains open for talks at any time, as long as we could be presented with a credible offer that would address pay erosion of more than a quarter over the last fifteen years.
“Instead of acting responsibly and coming to the table, the Government has wasted time by first saying nothing and then having the Prime Minister declare an end to talks without first having stepped into the room with doctors. He then adds insult to injury by blaming those same doctors for rising waiting lists. Sooner or later the Government will accept that they need to work with doctors rather than against them. We are here to talk when they do.”
* Source: British Medical Association