After a few subtle announcements and a brief strike, doctors in England began their longest consecutive strike in the seven-decade history of Britain's National Health Service (NHS). Junior doctors, below consultant level, have launched a six-day strike, escalating their long-running pay dispute with the UK government, according to AFP.
The timing of the strike adds an extra layer of complexity as it takes place during one of the busiest periods for the state-funded NHS, struggling with increased pressure from winter respiratory illnesses. This action closely follows the three-day strike that took place just before Christmas, further increased the pressure on the health system.
Doctors believe that in this way they can apply strong enough pressure to meet their conditions, and they chose the holiday season as an ideal period.
Health service for emergencies only
The National Health Service predicts that up to half of the medical workforce will take part in the strike, which could potentially cause "significant impact on almost all routine care".
Stephen Powis, the NHS's national medical director, expressed concern, saying: "This January could be one of the toughest starts to the year the NHS has ever faced. " Of course, doctors will work only with the most difficult and urgent cases, and such people will not be denied services.
The strike officially began at 07:00 and is scheduled to end at the same time on Tuesday, January 9. This prolonged suspension of work marks a deepening of the division between junior doctors and the government, and their relationship has certainly been quite "interesting" in previous years.
Patients across England are preparing for disruptions in routine care, and a dose of uncertainty and fear is being created in the country. The effects of this prolonged strike are expected to reverberate across various medical facilities, placing further strain on an already stretched NHS during a critical period.
The outcome of this strike will undoubtedly shape the future dynamics of labor relations within the NHS, because after the strike before Christmas, this strike has attracted the attention of the global public and strong reactions across England.