Medical professionals in England are set to conduct the lengthiest NHS strike in history

Commencing on Wednesday, hospital doctors in England will initiate the lengthiest continuous strike in the seven-decade existence of the National Health Service (NHS). Junior doctors, comprising those below the consultant level, are staging a six-day walkout as a significant intensification of their prolonged wage dispute with the UK government.

Taking place during one of the busiest periods for the state-funded NHS, the ongoing industrial action coincides with heightened pressure due to winter respiratory illnesses. This extended strike follows a three-day protest held by doctors just before Christmas. Anticipated to involve up to half of the medical workforce on picket lines, the NHS warns of a substantial impact on routine care, stating that this January might pose one of the most challenging starts to the year for the healthcare system. The strike, initiated by the British Medical Association (BMA) after failed negotiations with the government, commenced at 7:00 am (0700 GMT) and is scheduled to conclude at the same time on Tuesday, January 9. The BMA rejected the government’s offer of a 3.0-percent raise, deeming it inequitable across various doctor grades and asserting that it would still result in pay reductions for many doctors.

Since March, junior doctors have engaged in strikes on at least seven occasions. Both Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and hospital leaders have criticized these actions. Health policy is managed independently by the administrations in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, while the UK government oversees matters in England.

Junior doctors in Wales are scheduled to stage a 72-hour walkout starting on January 15. In Northern Ireland, doctors have voted in favor of potential strike action, while their Scottish counterparts have reached an agreement with the government in Edinburgh.

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The post-Christmas period typically sees a surge in hospital admissions, as individuals delay seeking treatment to spend the festive season with loved ones. The NHS is already grappling with substantial backlogs in waiting times for appointments and surgeries, attributed to the postponement of treatments during the COVID-19 pandemic and prolonged under-funding

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