NHS consultants in England plan strike during Tory conference

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Senior NHS doctors in England have announced three consecutive days of industrial action during the ruling Conservative party’s annual conference in October as part of their campaign for higher pay. The British Medical Association (BMA) made the announcement at the start of the latest 48-hour strike by consultants. The planned walkout between October 2 and 4 would be the longest stoppage so far in the dispute, which began last month. The BMA has called on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to intervene and avoid further disruption to the NHS.

The government revealed that ministers had not met with the consultants’ leaders since March 27, despite the result of the ballot for industrial action being announced in June. Health Minister Will Quince also confirmed that there had been no meeting with junior doctors, who are in a separate pay dispute, since May 12. NHS Providers estimated that the strikes have cost the NHS £1 billion so far, and it cautioned that the true figure is likely to be significantly higher. Health Secretary Steve Barclay stated that the latest strike would hamper efforts to reduce NHS waiting lists and urged the BMA to call an end to the industrial action.

The BMA argues that consultants’ take-home pay has fallen by more than a third in the past 15 years and called on the government to present a credible offer. The Labour party’s shadow health secretary, Wes Streeting, accused Sunak of refusing to speak to doctors and using them as an excuse for his failure to reduce waiting lists. The ongoing strikes by NHS doctors are causing disruption to routine hospital work, and the cumulative effect after nearly nine months is having an enormous impact on patients, staff, and the NHS as a whole, according to Dr Vin Diwakar, NHS national medical director for secondary care.

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