LONDON (AP) — Thousands of top doctors in England have begun a 48-hour walkout to demand better pay and conditions, paralyzing hospitals and leaving only emergency care.
The severe disruptions are the latest in months. Industrial action Public sector workers in the UK Cost of living crisis. It comes two days after junior doctors staged the longest government-funded strike in the history of the National Health Service.
Thousands of operations and appointments have been cancelled, health officials say, and the latest round of strikes could be the worst to hit the country’s public health system, as hospitals are virtually shut down unless supervised by a top doctor.
In the UK, senior doctors, known as consultants, will only be “on call” until Saturday morning for urgent work such as critical cancer care.
The Conservative government has offered doctors a 6% pay rise, but the British Medical Association, the Doctors’ Union, has called it “ridiculous”. Doctors have seen take-home pay fall by more than a third over the past 14 years and say officials are unwilling to negotiate on pay.
Dr Vishal Sharma, executive director of the association, said many people in their profession felt “undervalued and overworked”.
“Councillors are standing on picket lines today because we are angry and rock bottom. We never wanted to be forced to take this big step,” Sharma said. “Ministers have done nothing to stop this step.”
Psychiatrist Paul Christodoulou, who joined the picket line outside a south London hospital, said many colleagues had left for the private sector or countries such as Australia because the pay was much better.
“Many of us have trained for 15-years – to get where we are and that’s not worth it,” she said. “I want to be able to stay and support the NHS, but it’s getting harder and harder.
Nurses, junior doctors and emergency healthcare workers have joined government strikes in recent months to demand better pay to cope with rising food, energy and housing costs. Inflation in the UK has stopped 7.9% in JuneThat’s down from double digits at the start of the year, but still far ahead of other Group of Seven economies.
Before the strikes, the National Health Service A A beloved British institution In the year It started life in 1948, it was already under great pressure, with reduced manpower, huge backlogs and financial gaps.
Hospital executives have warned the dispute could cost billions of pounds, and unions and officials must soon reach an agreement to end the dispute.