Doctors strike due to ‘underpaid healthcare’

Sheffield medics have said they ‘can’t go on like this’ as negotiators prepare to meet in London to discuss doctors’ wage claims. 

Doctors stood outside the Royal Hallamshire hospital for three days, protesting for better wages and pleading the government to change their pay. 

The strike action has arisen against a backdrop of growing discontent among junior doctors, who say they have been underpaid, underappreciated and overworked for years.

Daniel Pennells, a graduate in geriatric medicine who was at the protest, said: “I love my job but it’s disheartening. We simply can’t go on like this.” 

Daniel Pennells (second from left) protesting with his colleagues.

Ani Kumar, a communications representative of the BMA, who graduated six years ago, said: “There is no difference of pay from doctors who are in first year to those with eight years of experience.” 

The average salary for a doctor in training has not kept pace with inflation for more than a decade and junior doctors are demanding “pay restoration” from the government to reverse their estimated 26% real terms cut in pay since 2008. 

Dr Pennells said: “It’s not just about money but about being valued and appreciated. We are at a moral low point.”

The BMA has said to achieve its main goal, it would require a 35.3% pay rise, costing around £1.65 billion this financial year. 

A representative for the BMA said: “Some may think 35% is a lot of money to ask for, however, it’s only a big number because that’s how much has been lost.”

The BMA’s ballot on taking industrial action saw 98% of junior doctors voting to back strike action, with a turnout more than 77%. 

Mr Kumar said: “A change in pay can help staff retention, it can stop doctors leaving their jobs and therefore reduce the pressures on the NHS.”  

Ani Kumar representing the BMA at the protest.

As a result of the strike action, doctors have agreed to have formal talks with the government to try and come up with a suitable solution. 

Tate Nicol, a first year medical student, said: “It fills me with hope that by the time I graduate, doctors will be treated with enough respect to keep the medical staff happy and encouraged to work the standard expected of them.” 

Written by Lauren Oliver

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