KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 21 – A whopping 98 per cent of junior doctors belonging to the British Medical Association (BMA) have voted in support of a 72-hour strike next month.
The Independent reported that the walkout – which will be the longest yet to hit the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) – is expected to affect every hospital in England.
The vote among nearly 37,000 junior doctors – representing the largest ever turnout for a ballot of doctors held by the BMA – covered more than half of all junior doctors in England. Over 47,600 junior doctors in England were eligible to vote in the ballot.
“This vote shows, without a shadow of a doubt, the strength of feeling among most of England’s junior doctors,” BMA Junior Doctors Committee co-chairs Dr Robert Laurenson and Dr Vivek Trivedi were quoted saying when announcing the result of the union’s ballot.
“We are frustrated, in despair, and angry, and we have voted in our thousands to say, ‘In the name of our profession, our patients and our NHS, doctors won’t take it any more.’”
Health care leaders reportedly warned that the industrial action will leave a devastating impact on services, including accident & emergency (A&E), without junior doctors for three days straight.
“We’ve been told that we must do everything we can to avoid elective cancellations, but we will have to cancel elective work for safety reasons if we end up with this [junior doctors’] strike,” the NHS chief was quoted saying.
Health chiefs have reportedly urged the government to bring the “spiralling disruption” of strikes by NHS workers to an “immediate” end.
The BMA reportedly claimed that after a real-terms pay cut of more than 26 per cent since 2008, junior doctors were only offered a 2 per cent pay rise in the current year.
The BMA has estimated that a 35 per cent pay hike is needed to address the cut, but Treasury sources reportedly said no money would be made available for better pay deals, according to The Independent.