Striking York doctors say they fear health care is going the way of the dental service because government ministers ‘don’t give a toss’ about the NHS.
They voiced their anger as junior doctors and consultants began their longest ever joint strike in England.
During the three-day walkout, the British Medical Association (BMA) said that its junior doctor and consultant members will only provide “Christmas Day” levels of staffing from 7am on Monday until the same time on Thursday.
A picket line made up of consultants and junior doctors was outside York Hospital again today.
Dr Kim Last, a consultant in cancer medicine at York Hospital, told YorkMix that Health Secretary Steve Barclay had not been involved in talks to end the strike for 274 days.
“They don’t give a toss,” Dr Last said of the government. “That’s my it’s my sense of it.
“And they’re too rich to care, because they don’t use the NHS and they don’t want to pay for it for the rest of us.”
Doctors say their pay has been eroded for years and there are 11,000 unfilled doctors posts as people leave the profession.
Dr Hester Baverstock, a cardiology registrar at York Hospital, is a junior doctor with nine years’ experience. She has seen “lots” of colleagues leave the NHS.
“Each year I see doctors leave here and generally go to New Zealand or Australia to work,” she said.
“They get paid more, they get a better, better quality of life, and they’re still able to work with a doctor. But they don’t want to work here in the NHS anymore. Well, they they do – but they want to be compensated fairly for the valuable job that they do.”
‘Think of your own family’
Dr Last said he feared much health provision could go the way of dental care – with people unable to get an NHS appointment and only those who could pay getting treatment.
“I really fear it’s going to end up like dentistry. You take an area like occupational health, where you have a health team that looks after the employees of a company.
“They’re trained in the NHS but don’t stay in the NHS, they go to the private sector straightaway. You can’t get an NHS occupational doctor for love or money.
“Orthopaedics – the majority will be doing private work. And that is why people are having to remortgage their houses to get their hip ops done now.”
Today the government said they were putting the national living wage up to £11 an hour next April.
Dr Baverstock said: “Our most junior doctors, those just coming out of medical school, at the moment are paid around about £15 per hour. So not much more than minimum wage.
“And these are people who have spent over a decade of their life working incredibly hard in order to become a professional and become highly skilled to where they can look after people and save lives from day one.”
Thousands of operations are being postponed due to the strike. But both doctors said they still felt most of the public still supported their cause. “Waiting lists are not high because we’re out here striking,” Dr Baverstock said.
“We’re out here striking because waiting lists are high. The NHS, including staff, is not being funded appropriately to a point that it’s not going to be viable for much longer.”
Dr Last added: “All I would say to government is, if any of you are listening, please just think of those in your own family.
“Who do you want to have treat them? At some point you’ll need the NHS and we want to be there for you. We want to help, we want to heal, we want to save people’s lives.
“And you’re starving us of that ability by starving us of colleagues, starving us of morale and exhausting us.”