Senior doctors in England have voted for industrial action over a pay dispute, their union said on Tuesday, leaving the state-run health service facing deep disruption next month when junior doctors are also planning to walk out.
Britain’s already-stretched public services have been hit by strikes in the last year as double-digit inflation rates have pushed workers to seek pay rises while the government frets that wage increases could be fueling price rises even further.
Over 24,000 consultants in England voted in the doctors’ ballot, marking a turnout of 71 percent, with 86 percent voting for industrial action, the British Medical Association (BMA) said. It said consultants would take such action on July 20 and 21.
The industrial action will take the form of ‘Christmas Day cover’, meaning most routine and elective services will be cancelled but full emergency cover will remain in place, the BMA said.
They argue consultants’ take-home pay fell 35 percent between 2008/9 and 2021/22, with the squeeze further compounded by a year of high inflation.
“This vote shows how furious they are at being repeatedly devalued by Government,” Dr Vishal Sharma, BMA consultants committee chair, said in the statement.
“It is not too late to avert strike action and the Government simply needs come back to us with a credible offer.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said they were disappointed at the outcome of the ballot and highlighted that consultants had received a 4.5 percent pay rise for the last financial year, increasing their average earnings to around 128,000 pounds ($163,264.00).
The result comes hours after the country’s main nursing trade union failed to secure a new mandate for strike action.
($1 = 0.7840 pounds)