NHS consultant strikes: South East senior doctors join colleagues in walkout
- Author, Bob Dale & Mark Norman
- Role, BBC News & BBC South East Health Correspondent
- Consultants have begun their second strike over pay
- Senior doctors have rejected a 6% pay offer
- NHS managers say the impact of the strike over the bank holiday weekend will be “significant”
Senior hospital doctors in the South East are among those taking part in their second strike of the year in a dispute over pay.
Consultants in the region joined colleagues across England in a two-day walkout which started from 07:00 BST on Thursday.
The British Medical Association (BMA) wants to see above-inflation pay rises to rectify what it claims are cuts over the past 14 years.
But the government said the pay award of 6% was final and there would be no more talks.
Lynne Campbell, a consultant anaesthetist, joined a picket line at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton.
She said: “I’m seeing colleagues moving elsewhere, so we’ve got an ITU colleague that’s gone to New Zealand, we’ve got a neo-natal going to the Cayman Islands, one of my friends has left to go to AstraZeneca.
“In Ireland the starting salary for a consultant is double what we would pay in this hospital here.”
The timing of the stoppage has caused specific problems for NHS managers, with Dinesh Sinha, the chief medical officer for NHS Sussex, saying it would be “a challenging period”.
She said: “That is because it is in a time frame which already has various holidays, including the bank holiday weekend.
“We expect the impact to be significant.”
Health Secretary Steve Barclay said he was “concerned and disappointed” by the continuing strike action.
It has found while salaries have not kept up with inflation, NHS senior doctors are still earning more than counterparts in a number of countries.
The analysis, which takes into account the cost of living in different countries, placed them above those in France, Spain and Italy as well as New Zealand last year.
But their pay was a little behind Germany, Ireland and the Netherlands.
Data was not available for some countries such as Australia and the US, which the think tank said limited the conclusions that could be drawn.
But they said the findings provided useful context in the ongoing debate about doctors’ pay.
However, the BMA called it “unhelpful”, saying pay was higher because of the amount of extra work NHS doctors were having to do.
The union also pointed out there was now a new contract in Ireland, which had boosted pay.
Meanwhile, NHS England warned patients to expect major disruption during the two-day walkout.