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Thousands of hospital doctors are leaving Britain’s latest strike

LONDON – British hospital doctors began a three-day strike over pay on Monday at the start of a week that will also see teachers, train staff and civil servants quit in the latest spate of industrial action.

Doctors say years of below-inflation pay rises mean they’ve effectively had a 26 percent pay cut since 2008.

Before the hiatus, the body she represents, the British Medical Association (BMA), launched an advertising campaign claiming a newly qualified doctor was earning less than some cafe staff.

“Pret a Manger has announced that it will pay up to £14.10 (US$17.13) per hour,” reads the ad.

“A junior doctor only earns £14.09. Thanks to this government, you can serve more coffee than save patients. This week junior doctors will be on strike to be paid what they are worth.”

The strike by the so-called interns – a category of doctors who are not high-level specialists but may nonetheless have decades of experience – is the longest they have ever conducted.

Coverage is provided by the senior specialists known as advisors.

“I thought as a doctor I would be able to achieve financial independence, but instead I’m still completely dependent on others,” said Becky Bates, a recently qualified resident in central England.

“With (university) tuition loans, credit cards and personal loans, I left medical school with over £100,000 in debt and now my salary isn’t even enough to allow me to fix my car if something goes wrong.”

Hundreds of thousands of workers are expected to walk down Wednesday, including teachers, London Underground train drivers, BBC journalists and university staff.

For the last year Britain has been plagued by strikes across the economy, from nurses and ambulance workers to lawyers and dockers, fueled by rising food, fuel and housing costs.

– Unaffordable wage demands –

They have all clashed with the government, which insists the country cannot afford inflation-dampening wage increases.

Leading doctors and nurses have repeatedly warned that poor pay and conditions in the UK are driving trained medical and nursing staff abroad at a time of record waiting lists, exacerbated by a pandemic treatment backlog.

According to the BMA, junior doctors in England have suffered a 26 per cent cut in their salaries in real terms since 2008/09.

“Is it surprising that young doctors are looking for jobs abroad or in other fields when the government tells them they are worth more than a quarter less than they were in 2008?

“The loss of such valuable clinicians to other countries and professions, when waiting lists soar to record highs, means patients will suffer even more than they already are,” said doctors Robert Laurenson and Vivek Trivedi, co-chairs of the BMA Young Physicians Committee, in a joint statement.

Health Secretary Steve Barclay said the BMA’s decision to go ahead with the strike was “incredibly disappointing”.

He said the body had refused to take part in formal wage negotiations on condition that the strikes were halted.

Other unions representing nurses and ambulance workers have suspended their strike action so negotiations could resume this week, he added.

Source: Crypto News Deutsch

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