In a groundbreaking move that sent shockwaves through the British health system, specialist doctors and dentists in public hospitals across the UK recently staged a 48-hour strike, causing substantial disruption to patient treatment. This unprecedented collective action serves as a stark reminder of the mounting frustrations within these healthcare professions, as they grapple with long-standing issues such as understaffing, low pay, and deteriorating working conditions. As the nation holds its breath in anticipation of potential ripple effects on an already strained healthcare infrastructure, one cannot help but ponder: Are we on the precipice of a much-needed revolution in our approach to healthcare?
British health system: How Specialist Doctors Fight for their Worth
In an announcement concerning the British health system, the BMA has disclosed plans for a 48-hour strike involving its union members. During this period, patients will only receive urgent services akin to those offered on Christmas Day. As a result of the strike action, all planned examinations and surgeries are set to be called off. The specialist doctors participating in the strike have expressed their concerns over wage stagnation spanning 14 years, primarily attributable to inflationary effects on their earnings.
Cancellation of surgery and examination of patients due to strike
Non-specialist doctors in the British public health system also stopped working for five days last week in protest of the lack of wages and working conditions, and their strike ended two days ago. Following the start of a 48-hour strike by specialist doctors in the British National Health Service, thousands of surgeries and examinations of patients with specialist doctors will be cancelled.
The majority of British doctors voted to continue the strike
As per the report in the British media, over 24 thousand specialist doctors took part in the British Medical Association’s ballot, with a turnout of 71%. Among them, 20,741 doctors voted in favour of the strike. The BMA expressed dissatisfaction with the government’s proposal to increase wages by 6%, deeming it insulting and stating, “This vote reflects their anger at the government’s continuous undervaluation of our profession.”
The British government’s disregard for the demands of British doctors
According to the doctors, despite repeated appeals, the government’s continuous neglect of their longstanding demands has left them with no choice but to resort to their last option – a strike. Meanwhile, the recent NHS report has revealed a concerning statistic: over seven million and four hundred thousand patients are currently awaiting treatment in government hospitals, including cancer patients and sick children. Observers in the UK have pointed out that the NHS of England is now grappling with its most critical situation since its establishment 75 years ago.
The rise of dissatisfaction among English specialist doctors in the last ten years
During the recent British protests against the living conditions in this country, thousands of medical professionals stopped their work for the first time in the last ten years. At the same time, the train drivers in the British Railways have gone on strike again. The UK, facing a severe cost of living crisis, has seen strikes in health, transport, education, postal and other sectors for months.
Consecutive strikes of British medical staff
Employees want salary increases to fight inflation; Inflation, which is slowing down, is still the highest among the G7 countries, reaching 7.9% year-on-year in June. After nurses, paramedics, and junior doctors, this week it is the turn of consultants, the most experienced doctors, to quit working in UK public hospitals.
Long waiting time for medical services
UK’s National Health Service, known as the NHS, is under much pressure, and after years of austerity and the Covid-19 pandemic, access to care has become more complicated. According to research published by the BBC, children must wait up to 18 months to receive dental treatments requiring anaesthesia, including tooth extractions. During a sit-in outside a hospital in London, Dr Philip Kelly, a specialist in acute medicine, said, “No strike is a celebration, and I cannot make a fuss about this.”
Proposing a 6% increase in the salaries of specialist doctors
The government has proposed a 6% increase in the salaries of specialist doctors for this year. But according to the British Medical Association, this proposal follows an actual salary cut. Health Secretary Steve Barclay said, “My door is always open to discuss non-pay issues, but this pay award is final, so I urge the BMA to end their strikes immediately.”
The longest continuous strike of British doctors
For several months, the doctors working in the British National Health Service have gone on strike in protest of the cost of living crisis, as well as work pressure and wages, and what they said was the government’s indifference to their demands, like more than a million employees of other public service sectors in the UK. Still, the recent doctors’ strike has been declared the longest continuous strike by doctors, during which thousands of doctor’s examinations in public hospitals and surgeries have been cancelled.
The possibility of total privatisation of the British health system
The possibility of complete or partial privatisation of the British health system, which is close to bankruptcy due to deep financial problems and the decline in the quality of medical services, has become more vital than ever. The British health system, which has provided free services to the people of this country for the past seven decades, has now reached the end of the line with the increase in population, the spread of new diseases, and a series of problems caused by modern life.
The tremendous pressure on the NHS budget on the UK government
The NHS, established in 1948 after World War II to provide medical services to those injured and wounded in the war, now offers free healthcare to the people of the UK with 1.6 million employees. The budget 75 years ago was 437 million pounds (today’s value is about 9 billion pounds), and this year, it has reached nearly 136 billion pounds, putting significant pressure on the government budget.
Substantial prejudice of political groups and people against NHS
In the UK, there is a substantial prejudice among all political groups and people towards the NHS, to the extent that it is sometimes called the “civil religion” of the British. When the former president of the US, Donald Trump, during his last trip to London in 2019, declared the British health system bankrupt and proposed the investment of American private companies, he faced a wave of criticism from British public opinion. At the same time, thousands of protesters demonstrated in the streets of London and chanted slogans against Trump in favour of the NHS.
The downhill slope of the level of health care in the UK
The decline in the level of health services in the UK has made the UK people, more than ever, conclude that continuing the status quo is not sustainable. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak says that he is ready to pay a lump sum to the employees of the British health system to end the protests and strikes. Meanwhile, according to British media reports, Sunak uses private treatment facilities for herself and her family. As can be seen from the appearance of the matter, he does not trust the NHS.