Doctors have been accused of “going against the ethics of medicine” by staging the most disruptive strike in the history of the NHS today.
Junior doctors are joining forces with consultants in the first of a series of coordinated strikes designed to “maximize disruption”.
This week’s strike, which began yesterday with consultants and continues until Friday with a three-day strike by junior doctors, may lead to the cancellation of more than 100,000 operations and appointments, NHS bosses have warned.
They said the “horrible scenario” will put patients at “the highest level of risk in living memory” and will affect “many more patient groups who have not been affected by previous attacks.”
Many patients experience a second or third delay in treatment. Cancer patients may be at particular risk, and “some of the sickest patients may suffer the most.”
Junior doctors are joining forces with consultants in the first of a series of coordinated strikes designed to “maximize disruption”. Pictured: NHS doctors on strike outside University College Hospital in central London on September 20.
This week’s strike, which began yesterday with consultants and continues until Friday with a three-day strike by junior doctors, may lead to the cancellation of more than 100,000 operations and appointments, NHS bosses have warned. Pictured: NHS doctors on strike outside London’s Whittington Hospital on September 20.
And in what the Health Secretary has branded a “politically motivated” move, mass strikes will be repeated next month to coincide with Rishi Sunak’s first Conservative party conference as Prime Minister.
The consultants’ strike will last until 7am on Thursday, while junior doctors will organize their own strike from today, which will end at 7am on Saturday.
The British Medical Association (BMA), which is coordinating the strikes, claims doctors have seen their salaries erode by 35 per cent in the last 15 years.
As a result, junior doctors have asked for a total salary increase of 35 percent, while consultants have set their salary demand at 11 percent.
For comparison, the Government has offered junior doctors a pay rise of between 8.1 and 10.3 per cent, while consultants have been offered a six per cent pay rise.
Thousands of operations and appointments have already been canceled as a result of four days of action by consultants and 19 by junior doctors.
Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “This will likely be the largest strike the NHS has ever seen, causing serious disruption and putting patients at the highest level of risk in living memory.”
He added: “Consultants and junior doctors dating each other is the dire scenario that healthcare leaders have long feared, and now face a difficult few days in their efforts to keep patients safe, before a solution longer and more difficult consequences.
“We suspect that, despite our members preparing thoroughly in advance, this time we may see more than 100,000 operations and appointments cancelled, bringing the total to more than one million.”
Health leaders warned patients to expect five “Christmas days” in the next three weeks, meaning most non-emergency care has been canceled.
Health Secretary Steve Barclay accused the British Medical Association of “increasing militancy”.
Professor Karol Sikora, a leading consultant oncologist, said the coordinated attacks were “leaving big problems for patients in the future”.
And he added: “For doctors to go on strike goes against the ethics of medicine.”
“If cancer is missed and someone goes another two years without a diagnosis, it’s as good as leaving someone in the gutter bleeding… people will die.”
Dr Vishal Sharma, chairman of the BMA’s consultative committee, said staff felt compelled to go on strike, adding that while salaries had eroded, workloads had increased.