Doctors strike: Rishi Sunak announces pay increase for NHS workers - on first day of junior doctors strike

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has announced that NHS workers will receive a pay increase - hours after junior doctors went on strike.
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This morning (13 July) junior doctors began mounting picket lines on the first day of a five-day strike, amid ongoing pay disputes between the government and British Medical Association (BMA).

Now, in a press conference this afternoon, Mr Sunak announced that junior doctors and other NHS employees will receive a pay rise - but warned that “difficult” financial decisions loom in the future. Other public sector workers, including teachers and police, will also receive a pay increase.

He said: “Those (pay review) bodies have considered a range of evidence about where to set this year’s pay. And their recommendations to Government are for public sector pay rises to go up by a significant amount.

“Now clearly, this will cost all of you as taxpayers more than we had budgeted for. That’s why the decision has been difficult, and why it has taken time to decide the right course of action.

“I can confirm today that we are accepting the headline recommendations of the pay review bodies in full, but we will not fund them by borrowing more or increasing your taxes.”

NHS consultants, SAS doctors, salaried dentists and salaried GPs will receive pay rises of 6 per cent this year. Junior doctors will see the same pay increase, plus an additional consolidated £1,250 increase, according to Treasury minister John Glen.

“The action we have taken today is the most responsible way forward, striking a balance between the demands of our public sector workers and the needs of our country and economy,” he said.

The British Medical Association (BMA) has criticised the offer for NHS staff, confirming that junior doctor strikes will continue in the wake of the announcement. BMA chairman of council, Professor Phil Banfield said: “This offer is exactly why so many doctors are feeling they have no option but to take industrial action as they have suffered years of below-inflation pay awards and once again the Government and the DDRB have both failed to address that in this year’s uplift.

"Today’s announcement represents yet another pay cut in real terms and serves only to increase the losses faced by doctors after more than a decade’s worth of sub-inflation pay awards. It completely ignores the BMA’s calls to value doctors for their expertise by full pay restoration to 2008/2009 levels."

He added: “The BMA will continue to fight for the full restoration of pay lost since 2008, and reform of the pay review bodies.”

The news comes after reports that NHS waiting lists have climbed to a record high in England, with waiting lists unlikely to be reduced in size while industrial action is taking place. In the past year, the waiting list for blood and organ transplants increased by 11 per cent, with almost 7,000 people now on the list.

While the BMA holds out on accepting the offer, despite it being described as the "final offer" by Sunak, teachers across England look set to accept the new 6.5% pay rise. In a joint statement released by the Prime Minister, Education Secretary Gillian Keegan and leaders from the four education unions, the group said: “ASCL, NAHT, NASUWT and NEU will now put this deal to members, with a recommendation to accept the STRB (School Teachers’ Review Body) recommendation.

“This deal will allow teachers and school leaders to call off strike action and resume normal relations with government.”

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