Posted: Mon 25th Mar 2024

Junior doctors in Wales to begin 96-hour walkout today

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales

Thousands of junior doctors in Wales will begin a third round of strike action over their pay today.

The 96-hour walkout, the longest yet will commence from 7am on Monday 25th March to 7am on Friday 29 March as the dispute over doctors’ pay which a union says has been cut by almost a third since 2009 continues

More than 3,000 doctors with up to 11 years of experience out of medical school are expected to withdraw their labour from Welsh hospitals and GP surgeries across Wales in pursuit of a fairer deal for their service.

Last December 98% of junior doctors who took part in the ballot for industrial action voted to strike in pursuit of pay restoration.

The Welsh junior doctors committee decided to ballot members in August after being offered another below-inflation pay offer of 5% – the worst in the UK and lower than recommended by the DDRB (the review body for Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration).

Dr Oba Babs-Osibodu and Dr Peter Fahey, co-chairs of BMA Cymru Wales’ Junior Doctors Committee said:

“It’s extremely sad and frustrating that we find ourselves here again, our third strike and our longest yet. We don’t want to be in this position but again, faced with inaction, we are left with no choice.

“We want to reiterate that the strikes can be called off at any time if the Welsh Government put forward a credible pay offer to form the basis of talks.

“Whilst we continue to be undervalued, and disregarded for our work in the health service our resolve to restore our pay remains unbroken, enough is enough.

“Junior doctors are starting their careers earning £13.65 an hour in Wales. Is that all they are worth? They are providing lifesaving care after training for years and are shouldering up to £100,000 of debt.

“We will continue our fight for fair pay for all doctors working in the NHS. It is no surprise that we are losing doctors as they search for better pay and conditions elsewhere. Losing our doctors at a time when waiting lists are at record highs will mean patients suffering more than they are already.”

The head of NHS Wales, Judith Paget, has warned the impact on services will be significant, and appointments and procedures will need to be rescheduled as a result. Urgent and emergency care will be provided for those in need during the industrial action.

Judith Paget 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.”

“Your local health board will provide the latest information in your area.”

It may take longer for GP and pharmacy services to process prescriptions during this period, so people are also being urged to act so they don’t run out of medicines whilst surgeries and pharmacies are closed on the bank holidays.

Judith Paget added:

“If you receive repeat prescriptions, plan ahead before the Easter bank holidays.”

“Make sure you order your repeat prescriptions at least seven days in advance.”

Assistant director of the Welsh NHS Confederation Nesta Lloyd-Jones said:

“NHS leaders understand the financial challenges facing the Welsh Government, but it is disappointing that the BMA and government have still not been able to find a solution to the ongoing pay dispute.

She said this weeks action “will see the triple challenge of school holidays, strike action followed by the four-day bank holiday weekend. The combination of reduced capacity and potential increased demand will have a significant knock-on effect on the NHS in the days and weeks after the walkout action has taken place.

“Patient safety is of course the number one priority. Health leaders and their teams will pull out all the stops to fill rotas, but the reality is patients will bear the greatest burden, with around 41 per cent of outpatient appointments and 61 per cent of operations postponed across Wales in January’s three-day walkout by junior doctors.

“It’s vital Wales’ new First Minister and the for Health and Social Care engage with health trade unions to prevent further industrial action in the NHS. Industrial action is and will continue to have a huge impact on service delivery, undoing much of the good work that has been done to recover performance following the pandemic.”

Since the last junior doctor strike Consultants and SAS (specialist, associate specialist, and speciality) doctors have voted to strike as part of a dispute with the Welsh Government over their pay. Consultant and SAS doctors are set to take part in a 48 hour strike from 7am, Tuesday 16 April to 7am, Thursday 18 April.

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