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Voices from the picket lines: junior doctors speak out

BMJ 2023; 380 doi: (Published 15 March 2023) Cite this as: BMJ 2023;380:p598
  1. Chris Stokel-Walker, freelance journalist,
  2. Gareth Iacobucci, assistant news editor1,
  3. Elisabeth Mahase, clinical reporter1,
  4. Melina Zachariou, freelance reporter,
  5. Charlotte Rose, editorial scholar1
  1. 1The BMJ

Junior doctors started a 72 hour walk out on 13 March after the BMA failed to reach any meaningful progress in pay talks with the government.1Chris Stokel-Walker, Gareth Iacobucci, Elisabeth Mahase, Melina Zachariou, and Charlotte Rose spoke to protesters about what drove them to take action

Martin Whyte, Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle upon Tyne

“I’ve been a doctor for eight years, and all I’ve seen in that time is that workloads have become more intense. We’re not worth 26% less than we were 15 years ago. It’s a complete unwillingness to make pay appropriate for the level of responsibility and skill required to be a doctor. And we’re seeing this play out in a number of ways, most notably in a massive attrition of our workforce. We’re seeing doctors become full time locums because pay in training is not commensurate with the work required. And instead of becoming cardiologists or surgeons, junior doctors talk about moving to Australia because they don’t see a future in the NHS. Many of my colleagues feel a real sense of moral injury and burnout and a sense that we just do not have the staff and the resources to deliver good care.”

Amna Khalid, Royal Victoria Infirmary

“I graduated in 2017. I’m striking because I think we are worth way more than we are paid. We take a lot of responsibility as junior doctors. And what do we get? We get pay cuts. Goodwill only goes so far. Morale is so low, but I’m doing this not just for my sake but for our patients’ sake, so we can keep the NHS alive. There have been days I’ve dreaded going to work, because I just think it’s going to be the same: we’re going to be overworked, for what? £14 an hour? The NHS is such a good system. It’d be …

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