In the UK, young doctors on strike for better salaries

"Overworked and underpaid," reads a sign

In the UK, young doctors on strike for better salaries

"Overworked and underpaid," reads a sign. Thousands of young British doctors begin a four-day strike on Tuesday (April 11) to win better wages amid the cost of living crisis. This is a new pressure on a health system out of breath.

According to the NHS Confederation, 350,000 appointments could be postponed. The young doctors had already gone on strike for three days last month, which had canceled 175,000 appointments.

“This is the most disruptive mobilization in the history of the NHS [the public health service] and the strikes will bring immense pressure,” said Stephen Powis, medical director of NHS England. “Urgent and critical care will be prioritized, but unfortunately some patients will have their appointments rescheduled,” he added.

deep crisis

In the United Kingdom, interns (“junior doctors”) represent around half of hospital doctors, they are young doctors just out of university but also experienced practitioners, some of whom have more than eight years of practice.

The four-day strike, which begins Tuesday morning and lasts until Saturday morning, comes after the long Easter weekend, when many employees were on vacation. “These strikes are going to have a catastrophic impact on the ability of the NHS” to be fully operational, Matthew Taylor, director of the NHS Confederation, told Sky News on Monday. "There is no point in hiding that there will be risks to patients," he added, calling on Britons to be vigilant. “Try to avoid risky behavior as the NHS will not be able to provide the level of care you want. »

The British Medical Association (BMA), which represents interns, says these doctors have lost 26% of real pay since 2008, when an austerity package was imposed on the health service. The union is demanding a 35% pay rise, which Health Minister Steve Barclay called "unrealistic".

In a campaign posted Tuesday on Twitter, the BMA, an officially recognized medical union in the United Kingdom, claims that "young doctors who operate on your appendicitis are only paid 66.55 pounds [approximately 75 euros] between them". “For a procedure that can save your life, which lasts an hour. Is it a fair price for quality health care? “, he asks.

On the population side, more than half of the British (54%) say they support the strike movement of young doctors, according to a recent Ipsos poll. This is three points more than last month.

The NHS is going through a deep crisis, weakened by austerity policies and the consequences of the pandemic. Strike movements have multiplied since the beginning of the year, among nurses as well as doctors and paramedics.