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‘Claps don’t pay the bills’— NHS staff strike for fair pay

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On the three-year anniversary of Covid-19, front-line workers protested poor pay and growing workloads in the NHS.

Hundreds of NHS staff gathered outside St Thomas’ Hospital in Lambeth and marched to 10 Downing Street to protest the lack of pay and poor working conditions they have had to suffer in hospitals during the cost-of-living crisis.

“We’re arguably doing much more work since the Covid-19 pandemic so all we’re asking for is for our pay to be restored to what it was 15 years ago. We are not worth 26% less than a doctor that worked in 2008,” says Sameer Sengupta, 34, a doctor at St Thomas’s Hospital.

The British Medical Association (BMA) and Hospital Consultants and the Specialists Association (HCSA) have staged the 72-hour strike action from 7:00 am on March 13, 2023 in pursuit of a 26.4% pay rise.

“I know doctors who are just making just around £14 an hour,” says Corey Bnffa, 28, a junior doctor at Croydon University Hospital. This is even less than the wages given to Pret A Manger workers as they are paid up to £14.10 an hour.

Megane Hollands, 27, a junior doctor at St Thomas’ Hospital says that she has friends leaving the NHS and going to work as doctors in Australia as they are being offered better jobs with better pay. Many of the doctors are even changing professions because of the burnout and stress they have been feeling in the NHS.

NHS staff strike at Whitehall.
NHS staff striking at Whitehall. [Miette Dsouza]

Thousands of patient appointments have been cancelled for the three days of strike action which could lead to a backlog of cases which could disrupt the NHS services.

“You speak to any doctor, and the first thing is actually patient care. But the reality of it is that the attrition rate of medical healthcare professionals over the course of years is going to impact waiting lists for years and decades to come,” says Sameer.

“What we need to do is make some significant changes now to ensure that there are enough doctors here to re-give the care that the public deserves.”

“Personally, the lack of pay has affected me. The cost of living has increased, my rent has gone up, my bills have increased and all of this is affecting all junior doctors yet we still get up every morning with that stress in our heads and go and do our best for every single patient,” Corey tells us.

He adds that the NHS bursary that funds medical students to go through med school is “abysmal” which is why he, like a lot of other medical students, and in addition to poor working conditions, has a student debt hanging over his head to the tune of £90,000 worth of debt.

“We need to do whatever we can to stop haemorrhaging our doctors,” adds Corey.

Featured image by Miette Dsouza.

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