Following on from junior doctors and consultants, a third group of NHS professionals is now floating the idea of strike action. The union involved is once again the British Medical Association (BMA), and the doctors are known as SAS ones, who work mostly in hospitals. While the profession may be slightly different, the reasons for the potential industrial action are the same: pay and working conditions. You might not have heard of them, and their role is quite opaque – but as HEE noted, there are a lot of SASs. The difference with the role is that the person has chosen not to take a career-led pathway. That is, they stop ongoing post-graduate training to become a consultant or GP.
National Health System
Health workers in the UK are taking a stand against the policies of the Conservative (Tory) government which has refused to heed their demands for pay restoration and essential resources for National Health Service (NHS) staff. Nurses, support staff, ambulance drivers, and other workers of NHS England have strongly opposed the latest, below-inflation pay offer made by the authorities in March. In response, Unite the Union and the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) have called for strike actions before and after the upcoming International Workers’ Day on May 1. Fom April 11, around 60,000 junior doctors in England went on a four-day walkout demanding pay restoration to compensate for the 26% cut, since 2008, in their take-home wages.
The Biden administration is poised to allow the national emergency on COVID-19 to expire on May 11, 2023. Once that occurs, between 5 to 14 million Americans previously covered under Medicaid will lose their insurance. Although the pandemic continues to rage, killing thousands and infecting hundreds of thousands each week, a bipartisan consensus has settled in Washington to simply pretend COVID-19 is “over.” What meager safety net was extended at the start of the pandemic is now being rolled back—leaving Americans to shoulder the risks and expenses of illness and death entirely on their own. Dr. Margaret Flowers joins The Chris Hedges Report to discuss the toll that COVID denialism will have on our society, and the generally outrageous state of US healthcare.
On Monday, July 25, junior doctors in London organized a protest march in the city demanding a pay rise. Under the banner of the Doctors Vote campaign, they took out a march from the Department of Health and Social Care Office to Downing Street. The doctors warned of more actions, including strikes, unless their long pending demand for pay restoration is met. Doctors from the British Medical Association (BMA), Doctors’ Association UK, and trade unionists and activists from Unite the union, Unison, Socialist Party, and others also took part in the protest march in solidarity with the junior doctors. Working class sections across the UK, including medical staff, have been facing an acute cost of living crisis marked by skyrocketing fuel and food prices.
In an article in The Nation magazine last week, doctors David U. Himmelstein, Steffie Woolhandler, Adam Gaffney, Don McCanne and John Geyman called for a National Health System in the United States. “We have long advocated for single-payer national health insurance,” the doctors wrote. “By eliminating private insurers and simplifying how providers are paid, single-payer would free up hundreds of billions of dollars now squandered annually on insurance-related bureaucracy. The savings would make it feasible to cover the uninsured and to eliminate the cost barriers that keep even insured patients from getting the care they need. And it would free patients and doctors from the narrow provider networks and other bureaucratic constraints imposed by insurance middlemen. We still urgently need this reform.”