Junior Doctors in England Announce Strike Ahead of General Election

Junior Doctors in England Announce Strike Ahead of General Election

Junior doctors in England are set to strike just days before the general election, as their union announced on Wednesday. This action comes amid a prolonged pay dispute with the Conservative government, potentially impacting the final stretch of the campaign.

The British Medical Association (BMA) stated that junior doctors—those who are below specialist and consultant levels—will begin their walkout on June 27, continuing until early July 2. The strike arises from a longstanding disagreement over pay.

On July 4, voters across the UK will head to the polls, with the Labour opposition expected to challenge the ruling Conservative Party’s position.

This strike is the latest in a series of actions by junior doctors over the past 18 months. Their protests have included the longest strike in the 70-year history of Britain’s National Health Service (NHS), lasting six days.

In recent years, various sectors in the UK have experienced walkouts due to decades-high inflation in 2023 and a cost-of-living crisis, prompting workers to demand pay increases to match rising prices.

While many pay disputes involving the government, quasi-public agencies, and private sector firms have been resolved, the junior doctors’ dispute remains unresolved. They are demanding a 35 percent “pay restoration” and have indicated their willingness to negotiate.

The UK government, which handles health policy in England, has argued that the doctors’ pay demands are unaffordable given the strain on public finances.

In response to the strike announcement, Health Secretary Victoria Atkins stated that the Conservatives had “made tough decisions to control public spending and reduce inflation.” She also called on the Labour Party to condemn the strike, emphasizing the political tensions surrounding the dispute.

“Labour would be beholden to their union paymasters, leading to increased spending and higher taxes,” Atkins added.

Labour leader Keir Starmer criticized the government’s failure to reach a pay agreement with junior doctors, calling it “unforgivable.”

“Obviously, I don’t want the strike to proceed,” Starmer said while campaigning in western England. “But if we are given the opportunity to serve, it will be our responsibility to resolve this and reach an agreement.”

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