Tens of thousands of junior doctors in England begin three-day strike over pay

"Thanks to this government, you can make more serving coffee than saving patients."

Emily Sergeant Emily Sergeant - 13th March 2023

Tens of thousands of junior doctors in England are to walk out today on the first of three days of strike action planned over pay.

Ahead of what is predicted to be one of the single biggest days of industrial action in a significant period of time, with civil servants, teachers, university staff, BBC journalists, and more who are members of several trade unions, all walk out on Budget Day this Wednesday (15 March), tens of thousands of junior doctors are staging three days of strikes over pay – with the first being today.

Following a huge vote in favour of their longest-ever period of industrial action, junior doctors – who are members of the British Medical Association (BMA) in England – will form picket lines outside hospitals across the country.

The BMA said newly-qualified medics make just £14.09 an hour, and added that junior doctors in England will have suffered a 26% real-terms pay cut since 2008/09.

The union also claimed they earn less than a barista in a coffee shop.


It comes after popular chain Pret a Manger announced that it would be giving staff their third pay rise in 12 months amid the rising cost of living crisis – meaning they are able to earn up to £14.10 an hour, based on location and experience.

“Thanks to this government you can make more serving coffee than saving patients,” the BMA said in its campaign launching the industrial action.


“This week, junior doctors will take strike action so they are paid what they are worth.”

As junior doctors nationwide report struggling with their finances more than ever before, Dr Robert Laurenson and Dr Vivek Trivedi, co-chairmen of the BMA junior doctors committee, explained why the union members are striking.

“Is £14.09 an hour really all junior doctors are worth?,” they asked.


“These are people who can be providing life-saving care, having trained intensively at medical school, and racking up around £100,000 worth of debt in the process. We are fully supportive of any worker getting an inflation-matching pay rise, and it is worth thinking on the fact that the government has cut junior doctors’ pay by so much that they could earn more serving coffee.

“Is it any surprise that junior doctors are looking for jobs abroad or in other fields when the government is telling them they are worth more than a quarter less than they were in 2008?

“Losing such valuable clinicians to other countries and professions when waiting lists are at record highs means patients will suffer even more than they are already.

“This is why doctors are going on strike.”

“We are fighting to restore our pay,” they added.


“We are fighting to restore our value. We are fighting to restore our workforce to make the NHS an effective healthcare system again.”

Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said the strike action being staged by junior doctors this week is “incredibly disappointing”, and claims the the BMA had declined his offer to “enter formal pay negotiations on the condition strikes are paused”.

He also warned of disruption over the coming days.

“We have been working closely with NHS England on contingency plans to help protect patient safety during strikes, prioritising emergency, urgent and critical care – but there will inevitably be some disruption for patients,” Mr Barclay concluded.

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Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also urged junior doctors to “accept the government’s offer to come in and have talks, the other unions have done that and we are making progress.”

Featured Image – BMA