The Green Party of England and Wales has sided with thousands of young British doctors who have gone on a four-day strike to win better wages amid a purchasing power crisis. A walkout that puts pressure on an already exhausted health service.
Green Party co-leader Carla Denyer, who joined striking junior doctors on a picket line, said these junior doctors were absolutely right to demand that their pay to be restored to pre-austerity levels.
“Most people clearly agree that it is unacceptable for junior doctors to work ever longer hours when they are asked to accept a real terms pay cut. A new poll shows 54% of the public back junior doctors taking action, while only 26% oppose,” she said.
In the United Kingdom, interns (“junior doctors”) represent around half of hospital doctors, they are young doctors just out of university but also experienced practitioners, some of whom have more than eight years of practice.
The British Medical Association (BMA) union says these doctors have lost 26% of real pay since 2008, when an austerity package was imposed on the health service. The union is demanding a 35% pay rise, which Health Minister Steve Barclay called “unrealistic”.
For its part, the Green Party has said it is committed to a properly funded NHS.
“We would increase investment by at least £6bn each year and ensure junior doctors and other health workers are decently paid. And to tackle the fact that one in three hospital beds in parts of England are occupied by patients well enough to be discharged but unable to access social care, we would also provide free social care,” reassured the co-leader of the Green Party of England.
Ms Carla Denyer has argued that health and social care, free at the point of use, could be funded through a wealth tax on the richest 1%, a single unified income tax – raising an additional £24 billion – or adding a social care levy to a more progressive tax system.
The NHS is going through a deep crisis, weakened by austerity policies and the consequences of the pandemic. Strike movements have multiplied since the beginning of the year, both among nurses and among doctors and paramedics.