Thousands of junior doctors in England walked out on Monday in three-day strike that will disrupt patient care, as they protest over pay they say can work out at less per hour than a barista.
The strike is the latest involving staff at Britain’s state-funded National Health Service (NHS), following walkouts by nurses, paramedics and others demanding a pay rise that better reflects double-digit levels of inflation.
The NHS will prioritise emergency care during the strike, which could come at the cost of routine appointments, surgeries and even some urgent cancer treatments, NHS England National Medical Director Stephen Powis said.
“This is likely to be the most disruptive set of industrial action days that we’ve seen all winter,” Powis told Times Radio.
“It is going to be a hard three days and it’s going to be quite challenging.”
Junior doctors in Britain are qualified physicians, often with several years of experience.
The British Medical Association (BMA) trade union says starting pay for junior doctors can be as low as 14.09 pounds ($17.04) per hour, one pence less than the top level of pay for a barista at British coffee chain Pret A Manger.