Junior doctors in England to stage three-day strike from March 13
LONDON (Reuters) -Tens of thousands of junior doctors in England will take strike action for three days from March 13 in a dispute over pay, the British Medical Association (BMA) said on Friday, adding to a series of walkouts by other staff in a strained health system.
Junior doctors - who agreed in 2019 to an annual 2% pay rise as part of a four-year deal but say that is now inadequate in light of much higher inflation.
"We are demoralised, angry and no longer willing to work for wages that have seen a real terms decline of over 26% in the past 15 years," the BMA, which represents nearly 50,000 junior doctors, said in a statement.
"This, together with the stress and exhaustion of working in an NHS in crisis, has brought us to this moment, brought us to a 72-hour walk out."
Junior doctors are qualified physicians, often with several years of experience, who work under the guidance of senior doctors and represent a sizeable chunk of Britain's workforce of doctors.
The strikes will heap more pressure on Britain's state-funded National Health Service which is already stretched by staff shortages and record backlogs, and is now experiencing waves of disruptive strike action by health workers.
While nurses have paused strikes scheduled for March as their union holds talks with the government, ambulance and other health workers are planning further strike action.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's deputy spokesperson said news of the junior doctors' strike was "disappointing".
"The Health Secretary met recently with the BMA to discuss what is fair and affordable, and we would encourage the unions to continue with dialogue rather than strike action," the spokesperson told reporters.
The Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association said the fewer than 1,000 junior doctors in its membership would also stage a separate three-day strike from March 13.
(Reporting by Farouq Suleiman and Alistair Smout, writing by Sachin Ravikumar, Editing by Paul Sandle)