Junior doctors in England are holding a 96-hour walkout
The “embarrassing” four-day walkout wreaking havoc on the NHS is motivated by an ideology to “stick it to the Tories”, an angry junior doctor has claimed. The attack comes as striking British Medical Association (BMA) staff were accused of using the “militant tactics of the hard left” to achieve unrealistic aims.
The young healthcare professional, who owns a property in a major UK city and lives a “very comfortable life”, told Express.co.uk: “In the current climate where a lot of people can no longer afford to heat homes or feed kids, pushing a narrative that we are poor is laughable.”
The doctor, in their 20s, claimed the BMA was “utterly blind” to the fact that many junior doctors earn above the average income and “most well above it”, adding that most of their colleagues striking are “reasonable and decent” and the BMA “doesn’t represent them”.
They said: “I feel that the BMA leadership is motivated more by the ideology of organising a strike and ‘sticking it to the Tories’ than in getting the deal those they represent would accept.
“They lose credibility with the numbers chosen too: 26 percent is based on inflation that is not what others get pay increases off to my knowledge and £14 an hour would actually be 15 if you exclude the paid breaks (which a lot of the jobs compared to don’t get). They’re ignoring big (or bigger) issues around working conditions to focus purely on pay, again probably political reasons.”
READ MORE: Union leader goes on holiday just as junior docs strike for 96 hours
Striking healthcare workers have been branded ‘laughable’
Responding to the comments, a senior Conservative source told Express.co.uk: “Once again this shows that the junior doctors at the top of the BMA seem more interested in playing politics than in finding a fair and reasonable settlement.
“They are increasingly adopting the militant tactics of the hard-left while demanding a completely unrealistic 35 percent pay rise.
“It wouldn’t be surprising if ordinary hardworking junior doctors start questioning if the BMA has the right leadership.”
The healthcare worker went on to argue it was unfair for “privileged” and well-paid junior doctors to go on strike while other hospital staff were working just as hard, if not harder, than them.
They said: “To me, the degree of anger is correlated to privilege. Many of these people have spent their whole lives thinking six-figure household incomes are the norm.
“I also don’t feel I could strike about my income when I work with porters and HCAs working as hard, and often harder than me, and I’m earning more than double them.”
Although the clinician supported the notion that NHS staff are paid significantly less than their market value, they said: “In many ways, this is the consequence of a single employer.”
BMA chief Dr Robert Laurenson went on holiday during the four-day strike
The junior doctor also weighed in on BMA chief Dr Robert Laurenson’s “pathetic” decision to go on holiday during the four-day strike, which ends at 7am on Saturday, in a move that forced him to make a grovelling apology this week.
They said: “For one of the leaders to be on holiday supports the idea that a lot of those participating are happy to strike as long as it is convenient.
“I wouldn’t criticise anyone else whose pre-arranged holiday happened to fall in strike week but for the leader of the whole thing to be away is pathetic. He wanted his current position and it is one that comes with responsibility.
“How can you be away the most important week of your leadership? Surely that is a sacrifice a leader should make. Asking people to follow him in taking a 20 percent pay cut this month (many of whom earn less than him), why should they?
“And even if he feels he should be entitled to go he should be intelligent enough to realise the optics and it weakens the argument he is leading.”
The backlash to the holiday prompted the 28-year-old union official to apologise for “undermining” the four-day strike. In a message to colleagues shared online, he said: “I can see that you feel undermined and I am really sorry my actions have contributed to that.”
The criticism comes as new Office of National Statistics (ONS) figures showed an increase in the number of excess deaths during and after the first wave of BMA strikes between March 13 to 15, in which more than 175,000 appointments and operations were cancelled, with health experts saying the rise in deaths could be linked to the walkout.
The ONS data showed that between March 11 and 24, the number of extra deaths was three times higher compared with the two weeks before. Some 22,021 deaths were recorded in England between Feb 25 and March 10, which was 833 – 3.9 percent – above the five-year average, the Daily Telegraph reported.
Writing for the Daily Express today, Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay stressed his “utmost respect” for junior doctors who are “vital to the running of the NHS” but branded the BMA’s pay demands “unreasonable”.
He said: “I value their hard work and dedication. I hoped to begin meaningful pay negotiations when I met the leaders of the British Medical Association Junior Doctors Committee last month, but its demand for a 35 percent pay rise is unreasonable and they did not compromise – it would result in some junior doctors receiving a pay rise of over £20,000.
“This is widely out of step with pay settlements in other parts of the public sector at a time of considerable economic pressure on our country. It is deeply disappointing this industrial action has been timed by the BMA Junior Doctors Committee to cause maximum disruption.”
Junior doctors on strike in London
The minister, who was “determined to find a fair deal that reflects how much this Government values junior doctors while protecting our commitment to halve inflation”, added: “Our advice remains the same – if you need urgent medical care then you should continue to come forward. Call 999 in a life-threatening emergency, but otherwise use NHS 111 online as your first port of call for health needs. Please continue to attend any GP or hospital appointments unless contacted and told otherwise. I want to be crystal clear: my door is open and I am prepared and ready to negotiate, but the BMA must also pause action.”
A BMA spokesperson said: “In our ballot earlier this year a record number of junior doctors voted for strike action, with more than 36,000 – 98 percent of those who voted – saying they would take to picket lines over the Government’s refusal to reverse the more than 26 percent real-terms cuts to their pay they have experienced in the last 15 years.
“Meanwhile since December 2022, we have seen our junior doctor membership grow from 45,000 to 58,000 in England, meaning we now have record membership numbers.
“The BMA has a resounding mandate from grassroots members to fight for pay restoration and our elected members are committed to delivering on that.”