Welsh junior doctors begin 96-hour walkout over pay

Thousands of Welsh junior doctors have gone on strike for the third time this year.

The 96-hour walkout will see just under 4,000 doctors take industrial action, with appointments at hospitals and GPs set to be postponed across the country.

The strike started at 7am on Monday and last until 7am on Friday.

The British Medical Association (BMA) is arguing for better pay, insisting that doctors’ salaries have dropped by almost a third in 15 years.

Dr Oba Babs-Osibodu, co-chairman of BMA Cymru Wales’ Junior Doctors Committee, was on a picket line outside University Hospital Wales in Cardiff on Monday morning.

He said: “We’re here for full pay restoration.

“Doctors in Wales lost 29.6% of our pay over the last 15 years. What that means is, currently, new doctors in Wales are earning £13.65 per hour.

“We stressed the importance of pay restoration to the Welsh Government and they gave us a first and final offer of just 5%.

“That’s the lowest in all four nations of the UK, it’s a real-terms pay cut and it’s a slap in the face really.”

Dr Babs-Osibodu said the strike will continue until the Welsh Government takes them seriously.

Deiniol Jones, a public health registrar, said doctors are leaving the profession or going overseas, with morale at “an all-time low”.

“It’s been driven by poor pay and poor terms and conditions,” he said.

“We really need to sort out the situation now. We have tried talking to the Welsh Government, and they’ve decided to cut our pay again and give us the worst pay offer in the entire UK.

“We’ve gone on strike twice already. It still hasn’t managed to get them back to the table properly yet, so we’ll go on striking as long as we need to.”

The BMA previously held strikes in Wales in January and February.

(PA Graphics)

The Welsh Government, NHS Wales and the BMA say they are working together to ensure patient safety is protected while junior doctors undertake industrial action.

The head of NHS Wales, Judith Paget, has warned that the impact on services will be significant, and appointments and procedures will need to be rescheduled.

Urgent and emergency care will be provided for those in need.

Ms Paget warned people, particularly those with repeat prescriptions, to plan ahead for the strikes, which will occur just before the Easter bank holidays.

She said: “We ask people to use alternatives to emergency departments if their need is not critical during the strike period.

“Alternatives include NHS 111 online or by phone, and pharmacies.

“If your appointment is not going ahead, your health board will contact you to let you know. If you aren’t contacted, please attend your appointment as planned.”

“While we wish to address pay restoration ambitions, our offer is at the limits of the finances available to us at present and reflects the position reached with the other health unions for this year.

“Without additional funding from the UK Government, we are not in a position to currently offer more.

“We will continue to press UK ministers to pass on the funding necessary for full and fair pay rises for public sector workers.”

She added that the Government remains committed to working with the BMA and to ensure that patient safety is protected.

– Advertisement –
– Advertisement –