Young doctors must stop their “heartbreaking” strikes, education secretary said.
Gillian Keegan said this morning that unions should take “seriously” the offer to NHS staff of a 6 per cent pay increase, in line with the recommendations of public pay review bodies, along with a additional consolidated increase of £1,250. .
It comes as thousands of young doctors walk out for a second day today, with four more days of strikes expected. It is equivalent to the longest strike by young doctors so far in England.
The British Medical Association (BMA), which represents junior doctors, has warned the government that “doctors are in this for the long haul” as it refused to call off the strikes.
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This despite Prime Minister Rishi Sunak insisting yesterday that the wage bonuses are “final” offers for striking public sector workers.
The BMA has dismissed the offer as not “credible”, saying it is still below inflation. Ms Keegan responded today that young doctors are not “exceptional” in dealing with inflationary pressure.
Mrs. Keegan said sky news: “What is unfair, I think very unfair, is that we know that there is a massive backlog in the NHS. We know it’s because of Covid. … What I think is very frustrating for people is that they have already waited a long time during Covid and this means that their planned operations or treatments have been postponed again.”
“It is heartbreaking for people because they are in pain, many people, so it is horrible, and we urge you to go back to work and accept the independent wage review body.”
He asked the BMA to take the offer “seriously”.
Professor Philip Banfield, chairman of the BMA council, said LBC this morning, the chances of more doctors’ strikes were “very high”.
He pointed to the Scottish government’s offer of a 12.4 per cent raise for junior doctors this year compared to around half of what is offered to those in England.
“It is equally possible that a UK government with greater access to funds could also make that kind of trading possible,” said Professor Banfield.
This morning, Ms Keegan also welcomed the decision by four education unions to immediately call off planned strikes to accept her plan to increase teacher pay by 6.5 per cent this year.
Asked how the government planned to finance the 6.5 per cent increase in teacher pay, he said: “What is always difficult about this is not the headline number, but how it is financed.
“One of the things that has made this really difficult is that I have known all along that regardless of what we offer, we also have to offer to fund not everything, because there is some within the schools budget, but a large part of it. of the.”
Pressed about where this money will come from, Ms. Keegan pointed to underspending in the department.
“What tends to happen with budgets within the department is…you have programs where you estimate the demand forecast or how quickly you’re going to deliver them. If you don’t spend it all, and very often you don’t spend it all, then all that money usually goes back to the Treasury.
“What happened in this case…is that they gave us the flexibility to take those up-front expenses and move them to teacher pay.
“Basically, we have thoroughly reviewed each line, each individual budget… and we have anticipated where we will not meet the forecast.”