Amid doctor strikes, are UK patients losing patience? Three questions.

January 9, 2024 If there is one thing Britons are simultaneously most proud of and most concerned about, it’s their National Health Service. The NHS has been under pressure since before the pandemic, from long waitlists for patients to staffing shortages and financial strain. The longest strike in NHS history, a six-day walkout led by junior doctors, came to a close Tuesday morning. It capped more than a year of stoppages as health workers across the system – who say they are “understaffed, undervalued, and underpaid” – have demanded better conditions. Those striking say they are fighting for the long-term safety of patients, while opponents say they are doing more harm than good to the system. Why We Wrote This The latest round of strikes affecting the United Kingdom’s National Health Service is testing the limits of the public’s support for NHS staff, but young doctors feel they have few other options. What’s behind the most recent junior doctor strike? Other NHS workers have sought salary increases to compensate for post-pandemic inflation. But junior doctors – the U.K. equivalent of residents, interns, and fellows – are pushing for a raise of 35% to “reverse the steep decline” in real terms of their salaries over the last 15 years. How much real wages have fallen over that time period depends on how you count them. The British Medical Association, the union representing the strikers, calculates a drop of 26% since 2008, using a measure of inflation that includes housing costs. The government uses the consumer price index, which suggests 16% erosion. In December, the union rejected the government’s offer of a 3% raise, on top of an average increase of 9% over the past year. Union representatives have clarified they are not expecting the full 35% at once but are […]

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By Donato