Junior doctors in Wales start longest walkout to date

The Welsh government says it will continue to press the UK government for the necessary funding to ensure “full and fair pay rises for public sector workers.”

Junior doctors strike

Thousands of junior doctors in Wales have begun a four-day strike today in what is their longest period of industrial action to date.

The strike will run from 7am on March 25 to 7am on March 29. Around 3,000 junior doctors are expected to picket outside hospitals across Wales. The latest strike is the third walkout by junior doctors in Wales this year.

The British Medical Association (BMA) described the situation as “extremely sad,” but, with their pay having dropped by almost a third in 15 years, they have been left with no choice.

Commenting on the situation, Dr Peter Fahey, co-chair of BMA Cymru Wales’ Junior Doctors Committee and Dr Oba Babs-Osibodu said: “It’s extremely sad and frustrating that we find ourselves here again, our third strike and our longest yet. We don’t want to be in this position but again, faced with inaction, we are left with no choice.

The doctors said that they wanted to reiterate that the industrial action can be called off at any time “if the Welsh Government put forward a credible pay offer to form the basis of talks.

“Whilst we continue to be undervalued, and disregarded for our work in the health service our resolve to restore our pay remains unbroken, enough is enough.”

They noted how that when they start their career, junior doctors in Wales earn just £13.65 an hour.

“Is that all they are worth? They are providing lifesaving care after training for years and are shouldering up to £100,000 of debt.

“We will continue our fight for fair pay for all doctors working in the NHS. It is no surprise that we are losing doctors as they search for better pay and conditions elsewhere,” the doctors continued.

The Welsh government says it cannot afford a pay rise that is more than five percent. It says it will continue to press the UK government for the necessary funding to ensure “full and fair pay rises for public sector workers”.

In response to the latest walkout in Wales, the UK government said: “The Welsh government is well funded to deliver on its devolved responsibilities – including health – as we are providing it with a record £18bn per year settlement, the highest since devolution.

“It must ultimately answer to the Senedd and the people of Wales on how it chooses to fund services.”

Urgent and emergency care will continue to be provided during the 96-hour period of industrial action.

Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead is a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward

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