British doctors go on strike against their salaries, take to the streets and stage a sit-in

Reactionary media were quick to link the most important strike in British public health to an increase in cases of respiratory infections and the cancellation of thousands of appointments. But they attribute central importance to the six-day strike launched by 75,000 resident doctors, half the NHS workforce, which has really deteriorated, but due to the public policies pursued by the Conservative governments of David Cameron (2010-2016), Theresa May (2016- 19), Boris Johnson (2019-22), Liz Truss (2022) and the current Rishi Sunak.

Thus, resident doctors resumed their protest to demand improvement in salary conditions, which began on Wednesday and will continue until Tuesday the nineteenth of this month. There had never been a long strike like this before, although they carried out a 28-day strike during 2023. Moreover, on this occasion they took to the streets again and picketed in different parts of the country, especially in London itself. It is increasingly crowded, despite a row with the British Medical Association in December over its questionable approach to central government. Professionals rejected an offer of an 8.8% pay rise, opposing a requirement of at least 26%, a figure they consider necessary to offset the loss of purchasing power they have suffered since 2008. They currently earn £15.50 an hour, about $20. Many resident doctors say they cannot cover the debts they incurred when they were at college, a common practice among British students and students from other universities in Europe, with the guarantee (which they do not have now) that once they receive, they can catch up.

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One of the sit-ins took place on the sidewalks of the famous St. Thomas Hospital, on Westminster Bridge Road, a few blocks from central London and the River Thames. It is part of King's College School of Medicine, where a large number of unemployed doctors came from. Many of those affected by the cuts and lack of care (estimated at 200,000 consultations) at the large hospital eventually expressed their solidarity with the strikers' position.

While the UK Health Secretary, Victoria Atkins, appears ineffective in her ability to present a proposal that will attract strikers, she appears to only be repeating the argument that during 2023 the health system suffered the cancellation of more than 1.2 million appointments at a cost of around £2 billion. This position does not help in finding a solution.

Meanwhile, Welsh-based doctors have also announced a 72-hour strike starting January 15. Their colleagues in Northern Ireland can join the protest.

The employment situation in the United Kingdom is experiencing a marked increase in conflict due to the government's social policy. In the health sector, conflicts are still ongoing between different sectors of doctors, nurses, and ambulance personnel. The measures taken by postal, port, railway and customs workers are also huge. Even for the first time in many years, the possibility of a general strike was mentioned.

Sacha Woodward

"Wannabe writer. Lifelong problem solver. Gamer. Incurable web guru. Professional music lover."

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