'Frustrated and Angry': Junior Doctors Vote to Strike

Junior doctors have voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action, according to the British Medical Association (BMA). In a statement, the BMA said that they’d seen the “highest ever number of junior doctors voting for strike action” with 98% of those balloted supporting a full walkout.

There has not yet been a date confirmed for the strike. But it has been suggested that junior doctors could walk out as early as mid-March in England.

Pay and patient safety behind decision to strike

According to the BMA, junior doctors have seen a real-terms pay cut of 26% since 2008. The union has said that pay rises that are “well below inflation” are driving hard-working doctors out of the profession when they’re needed “more than ever”.

Combined with pay is the issue of patient safety.

Junior doctors are often responsible for making life-and-death decisions, leading large teams and even carrying out surgery. But in recent years, doctors have expressed concern over their ability to provide the best care under ever-increasing pressure.

The severity of this situation was reflected in a July 2022 BMA press release which claimed: “The result of continual government neglect will be that doctors, pressured to continuously put their work before their own wellbeing, will be driven to their limits. This is unsafe for doctors and unsafe for patients”.

BMA co-chairman Dr Robert Laurenson has said that the decision to strike reflects the “despair” that is felt by junior doctors as they struggle to provide the care that patients need. He said that the vote is in the name of the “profession, patients, and the NHS”.

“Urgent resolution” is needed to prevent patient harm

In response to the BMA’s announcement on strike action, Saffron Cordery of NHS providers said that “an urgent resolution is needed if we are to prevent harm to patients”.

In her statement, the deputy chief executive recognised the challenges faced by junior doctors and stated that it “remains in the government’s gift” to bring disruption to an “immediate end”.

But while the health secretary has said that he “hugely values” the work of junior doctors, we don’t yet know how the government will address the latest strikes within the NHS. In the meantime, the BMA will be deciding whether to expand strike action to other countries in the UK.

Doctors are facing unprecedented pressure, and mistakes can happen. But if you’ve suffered harm as a patient due to an avoidable medical error, you could be entitled to medical negligence compensation.

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