UK health service to face ‘unparalleled’ disruption as junior doctors strike

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The National Health Service will face “unparalleled levels of disruption when junior doctors walk off the job for four days this week,” according to Stephen Powis, national medical director for NHS England.

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“We are very concerned about the potential severity of impact on patients and services across the country,” Powis said in a statement, highlighting that hospitals face almost 100 hours without as little as half the NHS medical workforce.

About 285,000 appointments and procedures have been postponed so far, including for cancer care. Hospitals will prioritize emergency, critical and neonatal cases, as well as maternity and trauma services, he said.

Junior medics — qualified doctors who are still in clinical training — are set to strike for four days starting at 7 a.m. on April 11.

The union had previously demanded a 35 percent pay increase but in a letter to health secretary Steve Barclay on Thursday the British Medical Association called for a “credible offer.

The strike comes at a particularly busy time for the NHS, with demand for services expected to be high after the Easter bank holiday weekend, and many other NHS staff on annual leave during the school holidays.

Disputes have plagued the UK’s public sector for months as trade unions across industries demand higher pay for their workers to compensate for inflation, which rose to 10.4 percent in February.

Passport Office staff were on strike last week, civil servants plan to strike on April 28, and the UK’s biggest teaching union, the National Education Union, is preparing for five more days of walkouts.

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