NHS doctors’ strike is’ inevitable ‘, says new BMA chair | NHS

A medical strike is “inevitable” and will reveal how dangerously worn the conservatives have left the health care system, the union’s new leader has said.

In his first interview since taking over as chairman of the British Medical Association’s council, Prof Philip Banfield warned ministers that doctors would take the fight against them by using a wage dispute to tell the public patients who die as a direct result of the government’s neglect of NHS.

Members of the doctors’ union voted last month to seek a 30% increase in their salaries over the next five years. This would equate to a “full wage creation” for the real income cut they have suffered since 2008, through years of wage cuts and 1% or 2% annual increases. Ministers criticized the claim as unrealistic and insurmountable.

Banfield said: “Doctors are angry, frustrated and feeling underestimated. There is very, very serious dissatisfaction. [about pay]. Are doctors after 14 years worth 30% less? No. I mean, if anything, they’re worth 30% more.

“It is almost inevitable that the path that the next government will take will lead us into direct collision with them. Why do we do that? If you do not have doctors, you do not have the NHS.”

Strikes would most likely happen next spring, he added.

His remarks come as ministers prepare to announce the pay rise for all UK NHS staff in the coming days after considering advice from the two health care pay audit bodies. Health unions have already warned of potential layoffs from NHS staff if they do not receive increases at least equivalent to inflation, which runs at 9.1%.

In a significant tightening of the BMA’s position, Banfield added that junior doctors want the 30% increase to be “immediate” and not phased in over the next five years.

Younger doctors are more prepared to intervene in pay now than when they staged a series of strikes in 2015-16 in protest of a new contract imposed by then-Health Minister Jeremy Hunt, he said. They are “on a collision course with the government,” Banfield added.

“We know from our activists that the appetite is very high. They more or less accept that labor struggles are inevitable. We do not want to have acts of war if we can avoid it. But it will happen. It will be inevitable. They feel they have been driven to it, ”he said.

Physicians would explore all avenues before the staged strikes to ensure NHS services function normally. “No one wants to strike. We will try to avoid that. But it is not at any cost. Because no one is sold out here, ”Banfield added in comments, underscoring why some other BMA board members privately call him” BMA’s Mick Lynch “- a reference to the RMT Railways general secretary general.

The starting salary for a doctor in Foundation year 1, the entry level for junior or trainee doctors is £ 29,384. All doctors are “juniors” until they become consultants, usually in their mid to late 30s.

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Recalling that ministers had rejected the 30% claim, Banfield said: “The kind of rhetoric from the government that says’ come on, we’re ready for a fight with the doctors’, it’s just inappropriate. But it’s the same ‘ bring it on ‘ [mindset] it says, ‘if you really want to know how poorly the healthcare system that you manage, finance and control [is]then we will tell the public how bad it is and what a desperate state it is in ‘.

“The public is already witnessing an NHS that in some places is disintegrating. It can not be right to lie on a floor with a hip fracture for eight hours. My wife [a GP] had a patient in a diabetic coma who is life threatening and could not get an ambulance to get her into the hospital. People lie in a carriage for three days in an emergency room. That’s where our NHS is now.

“The doctors have conversations with elderly patients about not getting into the hospital when they should be in the hospital because they do not want to die on a carriage in a corridor. People are dying and waiting for attention. What kind of NHS is that? “

Banfield added that he expects most of the public to support the doctors if they do anything. “This is about fighting for them and their NHS. Our message to the public would be that there may be some short-term disruption to prove to the government that they need to take this [doctors’ pay] seriously.”

Giving doctors the significant pay rise they deserve would cost less than the “terrible” £ 6.2 billion that the NHS in England spends on temporary staff, he claims. “It is more expensive to pay locomotives than to pay doctors properly. It is not only absurd, it gives a belief that this is not common sense. If they can find £ 37 billion for a test-and-tracking system that didn’t work, it’s actually a small sum of money in the big picture to start rebuilding their NHS. “

Doctors may seek to coordinate any layoffs with other groups of health care workers to maximize their efficiency, Banfield indicated. “Do we want to talk to other unions? Of course we do.”

A government spokesman said: “The government wants a fair wage agreement for nurses, doctors and taxpayers and is carefully considering the recommendations of the independent wage assessment bodies.

“We are incredibly grateful to all NHS staff, and they received a 3% pay rise last year – which increased nurses’ salaries by an average of £ 1,000 despite a pay rise in the public sector – and we are giving NHS staff another wage increase this year. “

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