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Fiona Kyle
March 13, 2023

NHS strikes: what's the state of play?

Today is the start of the three-day junior doctors strike over pay and conditions and around 36,000 junior doctors are set to walk out.

Junior doctors make up 45% of the medical workforce and around two thirds of them are members of the BMA union which has organised the strike.

The action is expected to cause the NHS some serious problems, not least because the junior doctors are walking out on both planned and emergency care. Consultants and other senior doctors are being drafted in to help.

The objective of the strike is to get a 35% pay rise, however the junior doctors say it is as much about feeling undervalued and overworked as it is pay.

The BMA has had meetings with the government over the last few weeks but the government has said it will not hold formal pay talks until strikes are put on hold. The BMA has declined.

In recent weeks other unions representing NHS staff including the RCN, Unite, Unison and the GMB have been negotiating with the government after suspending their own strike action. Last week talks were held with unions that represent everyone from nurses to midwives to ambulance staff and physios. Planned strikes for nurses and ambulance staff including drivers, call operators and medics have been called off.

Discussions have centred around effectively offering staff a bonus for this year on top of a 4.75% pay rise and a larger increase from April for the 2023/24 year. The government has suggested 3.5% but the unions are fighting for more.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: "We're pleased that unions representing the majority of ambulance workers, nurses, physiotherapists, porters, cleaners and other non-medical staff have agreed to pause strikes and enter a process of intensive talks.

"We want to find a fair and reasonable settlement that recognises the vital role of NHS workers, the wider economic pressures facing the UK and the prime minister's priority to halve inflation."

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