Junior doctors gathered outside Sheffield Children’s Hospital with placards calling on the government to improve pay and end dire working conditions on the second day of their 72-hour strike.
The strike by members of the British Medical Association is calling for action on working conditions, pay and the retention of NHS staff.
Placement medical student Katie, 22, said she fears she is in the wrong profession as she sees junior doctors struggle with work overload and poor pay.
She said: “It is hard to see my future in the NHS, I am going to be in so much debt by the time I am done with medical school just to go into an industry that pays poorly.”
With a cost-of-living crisis fuelled by sharply rising food and energy prices the protesters say many are struggling to pay their bills.
Junior doctors have experienced a cut of more than 25% to their salaries since 2008/09 and a lack of investment in wages by the Government has made it harder to recruit and retain junior doctors.
Doctors unions say this puts further pressure on the NHS and makes it harder to deliver care to the standards expected by professionals.
Anna Lewis, 30, the coordinator and spokesperson for the protest and also a GP trainee, said: “People are burning out, working 60 hours a week. £14 an hour is not a fair wage. The government needs to take accountability and do better.”
During the ongoing 72-hour strike thousands of appointments and procedures have been cancelled but the NHS said it would prioritise resources to protect emergency and critical care, maternity care and where possible prioritise patients who have waited the longest for elective care and cancer surgery.
Analysis, conducted by think tank the Nuffield Trust for the BBC has shown that the proportion of health staff who have left the NHS has increased in the last year.
In total, around 40,000 of these nurses have left the NHS in England in the past year, stating that this is the highest number and proportion of nurses leaving the NHS since trend data began.
The week before the strike the BMA wrote to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of the action reminding him of repeated sub-inflationary pay awards which have seen junior doctors’ earnings erode by 26 per cent since 2008. Newly qualified doctors are paid as little as £14.09 an hour.
It followed a long-awaited meeting with health secretary Steve Barclay the previous week which left junior doctors committee co-chairs Rob Laurenson and Vivek Trivedi frustrated when told by Mr Barclay that he had ‘no mandate’ to negotiate on pay.
With the current waves of strike action by nurses, ambulance workers and now junior doctors, it is hoped that with more pressure placed on the government the NHS will experience a significant change.