Junior doctors in England are staging a strike today over the new labor contracts, with some 25,000 operations cancelled due to the industrial action.
Junior doctors and the country's health authorities have been in talks over the new contracts for several months. According to the British Medical Association (BMA), the amendments to the labor contracts may lead to lower wages and an increase in doctors' usual working hours up to 15 instead of 12. The contract may also lead to cuts in pay.
According to the Press Association news agency, citing National Health Service (NHS) figures, over 5,100 operations have been postponed and 24,577 operations cancelled due to the 48-hour strike.
UK Health Minister Jeremy Hunt confirmed introduction of the contracts on February 11.
The junior doctors have already staged numerous mass strikes across the country.
This week a coalition of 36 health charities wrote to the DfH and the British Medical Association urging them to resume peace talks to try to find a solution to the long-running dispute. They said strikes by many of the 45,000 medics below consultant level had become “normalised”.
No fresh talks are planned, however. Junior doctors striking this week will still provide cover in areas of life-or-death care, such as A&E and emergency surgery, but they are due to stage their first all-out strike – withdrawing their labour from every medical setting – on 26 and 27 April.
The BMA blamed the government for the ongoing strikes. “We deeply regret any disruption this action will cause to patients, but it is because we believe this contract would be bad for the delivery of patient care in the long term that we are taking this action”, said Dr Johann Malawana, chair of the BMA’s junior doctor committee chair.
“By pursuing its current course, the government risks alienating a generation of doctors. If it continues to ignore junior doctors’ concerns at a time when their morale is already at rock bottom, doctors may vote with their feet, which will clearly affect the long-term future of the NHS and the care it provides.”