Junior Doctors have overwhelmingly voted in favour of strike action over changes to working contracts and pay. Read on for how this is going to affect the availability of medical services in the coming days and weeks.
Reasons for Striking
The British Medical Association balloted approximately two thirds of the medical workforce (37,700 members), of which 76% took part. Of this 76% 98% voted in favour of a full strike.
Proposed changes to pay and working hours form the main reasons as to the strike action. One article cited that junior doctors under the new rules will be earning the same as a McDonalds Manager – with young medics set to suffer a wage decrease of around 30%. Much of this pay drop is due to them being expected to work longer hours as part of their main salary, not as overtime as currently takes place. This drop in wages alone sounds extreme, but in addition to this normal working hours would also be extended to 7am – 10pm between Monday and Saturday, giving Doctors a massively long working day.
Part of the cited reason for these changes are the fact we have an increased mortality rate at weekends – did you know admission to hospital on a Sunday means a 15% increased likelihood of death over a Wednesday? So for this reason, and with the aim of reducing weekend mortality rates, the plans have been put in place.
In response to the pending strike action the Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt dd offer an 11% pay rise but this has been rejected.
What The Strikes Mean for NHS Patients
The first strike occurred on Tuesday, December 1st. On this day only emergency medical care was carried out. The next strikes are due to take place on December 8 and December 16 and include full walk outs from 8am – 5pm. Doctors have also been issued piketing guides for the days of the strike.
To cover the extreme loss in staff on these days, army medics are likely to be called in. As military employees, they have no right to strike and so are able to be drafted to meet demand.
Currently there still remains a deadlock between Department of Health Officials and unions.
A better 7-day service will decrease mortality rates – that is the government’s aim and stance. However on the medic’s side the monetary cost of becoming qualified as a doctor is astronomical – not least because of the long period of study, which for many can be in excess of 5 years. The unsociable and extreme working hours also mean junior Doctors could be working tired and at higher risk of making errors if these plans come in.
"did you know admission to hospital on a Sunday means a 15% increased likelihood of death over a Wednesday? "