‘The government needs to make a credible offer!’ says Junior Doctors Chair Rob Lawrenson

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Striking junior doctors on the picket line at St Thomas’ Hospital yesterday morning

‘THE GOVERNMENT needs to sit down and make a credible offer so we have a health system that works,’ BMA Junior Doctors Committee Co-Chair, Dr Rob Lawrenson, told News Line yesterday morning.

He was speaking at a mass picket of hundreds of striking junior doctors outside St Thomas’ Hospital, Westminster, just across the river from Parliament.

He said: ‘We’ve more patients than ever before, more complex patients than before, we’ve less pay than before the pandemic.

‘They cut our pay. The patients and staff are all in this together.

‘The government needs to sit down and make a credible offer so we have a health system that works.

‘We don’t want to take strike action. Pay restoration needs to be discussed at the negotiating table.

‘This struggle will keep going until doctors get pay restoration. It will go beyond any election.

‘We need a pay rise for the nurses as well.’

Dan Zahedi, Chair of the South Thames Junior Doctors Committee, said: ‘We’ve faced a 26% pay cut in the last 15 years. This is part of the under-investment and underfunding in the NHS workforce.

‘Doctors are leaving left, right and centre with 40% having plans to leave the NHS. It would be good for solidarity for other unions to take action. It’s up to them to decide.

‘Doctors will keep going as long as it takes. People are out in full force and are resolved to win this dispute.

‘Because of the pay cuts patients are not getting the care they deserve as we are so thin on the ground.

‘We need the government to make a serious offer so we can go back to caring for our patients.’

ICU junior doctor from Croydon Hospital, Georgia Blackwell, said: ‘I’m here because of how poorly junior doctors are getting paid. We are concerned how difficult the job is becoming.

‘This is because of the cuts to the NHS over decades. It’s getting harder to get things done for patients and to retain doctors.

‘Quite a few junior doctors moved to Australia and New Zealand because there’s a better work-life balance.

‘There was some movement from the government, they agreed to have talks, but the offers they made weren’t appropriate.

‘But it shows the strikes are working. The BMA has always been willing to speak to the government.

‘But the government has not been willing to make an acceptable offer.

‘Other unions should take action to support us, as we should them.’

Benny Sjoflot, Junior Doctor from King’s College Hospital said: ‘This six day strike is necessary to show the public, we care about the NHS and the future of the NHS.

‘In the ten years I have lived in the UK, I have seen it go from the world’s best health service, both for patients and for doctors in training, to something now that is really quite worrying.

‘I still think we are achieving “safety” in the NHS but that is on the sacrifice of health care professionals, who are so stretched that at some point that strain will snap.

‘This government talks about “strengthening” the NHS with all their pledges about hospital beds and refurbishments – but the NHS isn’t swanky new wards, or lots of new ambulances– it’s the people that work for it.

‘I have worked in hospitals that are on the brink of falling down and they are still excellent because of the people that work in them.

‘You don’t get a good health service by pouring money into the wrong places, not by privatisation.

‘You get a good health service by supporting and respecting your staff – doctors, nurses, physios – we need to feel like we are being valued.’