Senior NHS doctors urged to end strikes as first walkouts begin in row over £128k pay

NHS consultants have been urged to end their strikes because they already earn loads of money.

Health Secretary Steve Barclay called for senior doctors to accept the pay rise announced last week and get back to work.

The Mega AgencyHealth Secretary Steve Barclay said he is ‘disappointed’ that consultants are striking[/caption]

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said strikes are the reason NHS waiting lists have got worse since he pledged in January to bring them down.

A record 7.5million people are now waiting for treatment – up from 7.2m at the start of the year.

Top medics in the British Medical Association are walking out today and tomorrow and say their salaries have been eroded by a third since 2008.

NHS England said the strike will bring operating theatres and hospital appointments to a “virtual standstill”.

Mr Barclay said: “I am disappointed the BMA is going ahead with this week’s strike, given the average consultant’s NHS earnings are expected to increase to £134,000 a year.

“I hugely value the work of NHS consultants, which is why we have given them a six per cent pay rise this year, on top of last year’s 4.5 per cent increase. 

“This government has also reformed pension tax rules for consultants, something the BMA campaigned for over many years.

“My door is always open to discuss non-pay issues, but this pay award is final so I urge the BMA to end their strikes immediately.”

The consultants’ strike will be followed by a walkout by the Society of Radiographers next week.

Radiographers run vital scans like X-rays, ultrasounds and CT scans.

NHS England medical director, Professor Sir Stephen Powis, said: “It’s becoming even more challenging to get services back on track.”

Rishi Sunak told MPs on Wednesday: “The reason that the NHS waiting lists are higher today is very simple, and that’s because the NHS has been disrupted by industrial action.

“We’ve put very clear plans in place to bring down waiting lists in urgent and emergency care, primary care, ambulances, outpatients and electives.

“Those plans were working, and will continue to work, but we do need to end the industrial action.”

The BMA last night bemoaned that consultants’ pay has not increased as much as bankers’ and lawyers’ since 2008.

It said senior doctors have seen just a 14 per cent earnings growth, compared to a 48 per cent England average or 80 per cent for lawyers, accountants and architects.

Dr Vishal Sharma said: “This dispute is not just about one year’s pay settlement, it is about the reality of 14 years of consultant pay falling behind.

“There is absolutely no justification for the wages of some of the country’s most senior doctors to not have kept pace with those of comparable professions.

“This government is failing us and failing patients.”

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