"We are fed up of giving sub-standard and delayed care"
Thousands of doctors have gathered in Manchester outside the Tory Party conference to demand the government listen to their pay demands.
Around 2,000 doctors are expected to be at the national rally this Tuesday organised by the BMA union, with doctors travelling from across the country to join, including junior doctors, consultants and radiographers who are all on strike today.
Doctor Emma Runswick of the BMA said this morning that doctors were ‘fed up’ with giving sub-standard and delayed care to patients under the current conditions. She said doctors were in Manchester in the hope of talking to Tory delegates.
“We’ll be here literally on the doorstep, if they want to come and talk to us they can step outside and we will start negotiations today or tomorrow,” said Runswick.
“We’re hoping that we will be able to put some pressure on the government to resolve this dispute.”
She added: “We are willing to make space for them to come to the table as we have wanted them to do for many, many months now, to talk about restoring the pay of doctors, so that doctors stop leaving in their droves to countries where we are properly valued and where conditions are better, and we can get back to work.
“Because that’s what we want, not just for doctors but also for patients who we are training to give great care to and we are fed up of giving sub-standard and delayed care.”
The joint 72-hour strike by junior doctors and consultants started on Monday and will end 7am on Thursday.
Radiographers in England are also on strike this Tuesday which will limit the use of scans and X-rays being used in cancer, A&E and maternity services today. Leandre Archer, head of industry relations for the Society of Radiographers, is expected to tell the rally today that the unions’ members can’t afford to pay childcare or move out of their parents’ homes.
“They work excessive hours to deal with increasing vacancies. They watch colleagues leaving the NHS, seeking better work and better pay,” she’s expected to say.
Consultants wrote to the Prime Minister on Monday offering a pause in strike action, if it means getting the government to talk pay. They have invited ministers to talks facilitated by ACAS in order to resolve the dispute.
However Rishi Sunak has continued to insist that the government’s ‘final’ offer of a 6% pay rise to junior doctors is ‘fair’, whilst parallels have been drawn to Scotland, where strike action was completely avoided and junior doctors received a cumulative 14.5% pay rise.
Whilst junior doctors in England have seen their pay decrease by 25% since 2010.
NHS doctors are rallying in the rain through Manchester until 3pm this afternoon.
(Image credit: Socialist Worker / Twitter)
Hannah Davenport is news reporter at Left Foot Forward, focusing on trade unions and environmental issues