This is a pay dispute. The gap is not that great. I am deeply dismayed that the doctors have gone on strike. I think it's very bad they have withdrawn emergency cover.
Being a doctor is a fantastic job. Medical graduates earn far more than lawyers, economists, nurses or midwives. A doctor who becomes a GP will earn over £100,000. A hospital consultant makes £120,000 on average. Junior doctors are doctors on the way to becoming a GP or a consultant. On average a junior doctor earns over £55,000 a year. This is a great profession - one were you can both care for people and live well. This is a profession we should always encourage people to join.
But the latest strike is over Saturday pay. The Government pledged to increase NHS funding at the election. It also pledged a 7 day a week NHS. The contract negotiations with the BMA are down to pay negotiations, and although junior doctors secured a 15% pay rise to their normal hours, the issue is Saturday pay.
For weekend working, the Government says 30% more is the right amount. This is the amount that nurses and midwives already receive. Despite the Government agreeing 50% more for weekend working after midnight, doctors want 50% more across all weekend working. Although some criticise the Government for not accepting this request, this would create a precedent of 50% as the norm for all NHS workers. This would redirect funding away from the areas that need it most.
NHS spending will rise to over £12 billion by 2020/21. This is an increase of 14% in real terms. This package means that the Government can deliver on its 7 day NHS commitment, invest in practical support for surgeries and streamline quality care.
I think it is a great shame that doctors withdrew emergency cover over a pay dispute that does not seem that great a gap. To go on strike rather than continue to work through a settlement is irresponsible. I hope that the BMA will get back round the table and that a settlement which is fair to all can be found quickly.