LONDON: Thousands of junior doctors in England went on strike on Monday, causing major disruptions in the country’s publicly funded healthcare system for the next three days.


About 45 percent of all NHS doctors are “juniors,” or those with the necessary training but still early in their careers.

Because of their strike, thousands of patients will have to reschedule their surgeries and appointments, and senior doctors and other medics will have to step in to provide care for emergencies, intensive care patients, and new mothers.

Pay for junior doctors has dropped 26% in real terms since 2008, according to the British Medical Association, the doctors’ trade union, while workload and patient waiting lists have reached all-time highs. Hundreds of doctors, according to the union, are leaving the public health service in the United Kingdom due to burnout and the cost of living crisis.

According to the union, the starting wage for newly qualified medics is only $14.09 per hour.

“All that junior doctors are asking is to be paid a wage that matches our skill set,” said Rebecca Lissman, 29, an obstetrics and gynecology resident in training.

Despite the fact that “we love the NHS” and “I don’t want to work in private practice,” the author worries that public services are deteriorating.

Working to care for others and advance my education are top priorities for me right now. I don’t want to be out here striking, but I have to,” she continued.

Strikes have been held by other medical staff in recent months as well, including nurses and paramedics. More than 100,000 appointments have been rescheduled this winter due to the nurses’ walkouts, according to data from the National Health Service.

The medical director of NHS England, Stephen Powis, has stated that this week’s strike, which will last for 72 hours, will have the greatest impact and cause “extensive disruption.”

He noted that routine appointments and some operations are also likely to be impacted, in addition to some cancer care.

During a press conference on Sunday, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak expressed his disappointment that the junior doctors’ union was not communicating with the government.

A recent invitation to talks, the doctors’ union said, came with “unacceptable” preconditions, and officials have refused to engage with their demands for months.

Tens of thousands of teachers and government workers are planning to walk off the job on Wednesday, the same day the government will release its latest budget statement, in solidarity with the doctors who are on strike this week.

For months, workers in Britain have been on strike for higher wages to keep up with rising inflation (10.1% in January).

That’s down from November’s record high of 11.1%, but it’s still the highest rate in the past four decades.

Numerous other public sector workers, such as train operators, airport baggage handlers, border patrol agents, driving examiners, bus drivers, and postal workers, have gone on strike to press for wage increases.

A cost-of-living crisis brought on by sharply rising food and energy prices has left many people struggling to make ends meet, and unions say wages, especially in the public sector, have fallen in real terms over the past decade.