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Junior doctors’ strike: Scores picket outside Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge

Junior doctors have gone on strike in Cambridge, with hospital bosses warning the action will have a “huge impact” on Addenbrooke’s.

Picket outside Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge Picture: Keith Heppell (62957035)
Picket outside Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge Picture: Keith Heppell (62957035)

Tens of thousands of junior doctors across England are taking part in the 72-hour walkout, which began on Monday morning.

The British Medical Association (BMA) is demanding a substantial pay rise for doctors, with its latest campaign saying junior medics could earn more per hour if they worked in Pret A Manger.

The BMA says junior doctors’ pay has fallen in real terms by 26 per cent since 2008/09 and reversing this would require a 35.3 per cent pay rise.

On Friday, health secretary Steve Barclay invited the BMA to talks but the union rejected the idea, saying there were “unacceptable” preconditions.

The preconditions are understood to have included looking at a non-consolidated lump sum payment for last year.

Junior doctors make up around 45 per cent of the NHS’s medical workforce and consultants and other medics have been drafted in to provide strike cover in areas such as A&E.

NHS England boss Sir Stephen Powis says the 72-hour disruption caused by this strike “could be the most severe in the NHS' history”.

Daniel Zahedi, a foundation year one doctor working at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, said: “It’s not like junior doctors want to strike.”

But he says junior doctors feel they have been given no alternative.

“We don’t want to strike, we don’t want to lose our pay,” he added. “We love our jobs [and] we’ve invested so much time and effort into getting to where we are now.”

Dr Zahedi, who is co-chair of the BMA East of England regional junior doctor committee, told the Cambridge Independent from a picket line outside Addenbrooke’s says the government continues to “exploit our goodwill”, and this – coupled with pay erosion of 26 per cent since 2008 has led to the strike action.

He said: “When Steve Barclay tells us to check our conscience when we go on strike today, I’ll say back to him that we are, we’re looking at our consciences.

“We’re seeing 500 unnecessary deaths in hospitals every week, we’re seeing thousands upon thousands of staff vacancies and if nothing is done, then that’s only going to continue and only going to get worse. We are striking for the right reasons. It’s important to stick together and pay us our worth, and I hope they come to the table and start again.”

A spokesperson for Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said in a statement: “During industrial action, we need to reduce the number of appointments we have planned to ensure we have safe levels of staffing. We will contact patients directly if this means that their appointment will need to be postponed.

“We know how disappointing and concerning this will be for those waiting for treatment and we are very sorry this is the case. We will rearrange these appointments as quickly as possible.”

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