Thousands of hospital consultants in England begin 2-day strike action

Thousands of hospital consultants in England begin 2-day strike action

'This latest action will again hit NHS hard, with almost all routine care being affected,' says official

By Burak Bir

LONDON (AA) - Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) is expected to face major disruption as hospital consultants across England began a 48-hour strike on Thursday amid an ongoing dispute over pay.

Dr. Vishal Sharma, the BMA consultants committee chair, said consultants would be taking to picket lines with “heavy hearts.”

“We would much rather be inside the hospital seeing our patients. But we cannot sit by and watch passively as we are persistently devalued, undermined and forced to watch colleagues leave – much to the detriment of the NHS and patients,” he said.

In a statement, NHS said: “Consultants across the NHS are striking on Thursday and Friday, bringing almost all routine care to a standstill.”

The walkout by consultants belonging to the British Medical Association (BMA) follows the latest period of five-day industrial action by junior doctors earlier this month, which saw 61,200 hospital appointments postponed, the statement added.

"This latest action will again hit the NHS hard, with almost all routine care being affected," said Vin Diwakar, NHS national medical director for secondary care.

"... It becomes harder each time to bring routine services back on track following strikes, and the cumulative effect after nearly nine months for patients, staff and the NHS as a whole is enormous," Diwakar added.

The first round of strike action by the consultants took place last month, while the BMA has already announced that they will walkout again on Sept. 19-20.

Earlier, Health Secretary Steve Barclay urged the union and doctors to end their action, saying the government's 6% pay rise this year, on top of last year's 4.5% increase, is the final offer.

However, the BMA, which called the offer "derisory," said this is an "insult to consultants."

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