The Junior Doctors union has said they wouldn’t be willing to accept a pay offer from the UK Government that is similar to the one offered by the Scottish Government, and which has prevented strike action north of the border.
Speaking on the Today Programme, Dr Rob Laurenson – co-chair of the Junior Doctors Committee at the BMA – suggested their opposition to a pay deal in England is because of ideological differences with the Tories.
Asked whether they would accept the kind of deal that Scottish members are thinking of accepting, Dr Laurenson replied: “No because the Governments are very different.”
“The Scottish Government, there’s a basis to have a relationship and a working relationship to negotiate in the future, the Government [in Westminster] that we have today are hellbent on using the rigged independent pay review body to suppress our pay.”
Presenter Justin Webb interrupted to point out “to a patient who is not able to go to hospital today, who has had something cancelled, who is desperately worried possibly in pain, it really does sound ideological – the reasons you won’t do the kind of deal with the Westminster Government that you seem to be willing to do in Scotland”.
The BMA spokesperson retorted that what is ideological is “the Government cutting our pay for 15 consecutive years, which is driving doctors away”.
“We’re trying to fix a massive workforce crisis, that’s our ideology, it’s to try and actually fix the issues that we have in delivering high quality care to the people of this country and I think that’s a good ideology to have.”
Dr Laurenson had been brought on to the show following an article from Health Secretary Steve Barclay this morning demanding doctors end their strikes and stop harming patients.
Mr Barclay accuses the BMA of being reckless with needless walkouts, and insists medics have had a substantial rise that is more generous than other public sector pay deals.
“Doctors will receive a substantial uplift. In fact, it’s one of the most generous pay uplifts across the entire public sector.
“Yet, the BMA continues to act recklessly by going ahead with further unnecessary strike action this week, which serves only to harm patients and put further pressure on their own colleagues.”
Junior doctors began a fifth round of industrial action at 7am this morning, which will continue until 7am on Tuesday.
Figures published last night showed that strikes by junior doctors have cost the NHS around £1 billion so far.
16 days of industrial action have quickly added up to hundreds of millions to cover absent staff, disruption, and making up for lost appointments.
7.6 million people are now waiting for care – one person in every three households – with the waiting list rising 102,000 in June following a three-day strike.
Rishi Sunak has made cutting NHS waiting lists one of his top five priorities, but admitted progress has stalled because of the strikes.