Junior doctors in England on Wednesday, embarked on a five-day strike over a deadlock in salary negotiations with the government.
The health practitioners, mostly first time consultants and junior doctors, who staged a protest walk in government hospitals, also warned of the danger to patient safety.
The doctors and the UK government have been engaged in a long running dispute over the medics’ pay demands amid rising cost of living crisis for several months with both parties unable to resolve the differences.
According to English media, the strikes over heavy workloads and below-inflation pay rises have seen many thousands of appointments and operations postponed and come on top of a vast pandemic backlog weighing down the state-run National Health Service.
This is the sixth time junior doctors in the UK have staged a strike this year alone since have March while consultants have carried out industrial actions three times since July.
They join other category of workers like train drivers, nurses, ambulance staff and lawyers who have staged industrial action in the UK as inflation has soared, sending food, housing and other costs spiralling.
“Consultants and junior doctors walking out together is the awful scenario health leaders have long feared,” Matthew Taylor, the UK NHS Confederation Chief Executive which represents NHS organisations, told journalists.
Taylor said the strike could result in 100,000 operations and appointments being cancelled, taking the total to “well over a million” since the start of the long-running series of walkouts.
“Leaders will have pulled every lever available to them to mitigate the impact of this strike, but it is inevitable that patient safety is compromised,” he said.
According to Taylor, further joint strikes by consultants and junior doctors are planned for October.
In response, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, has told the doctors to call off their stoppages and warned that the government will no longer negotiate on higher salaries.
He has said the government had accepted recommendations from independent pay review bodies for salary increases of between 5.0 and 7.0 percent in the public sector.
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