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Taking the Mick: Notorious strike-merchant Lynch joins NHS picket line

Taking the Mick: Notorious RMT boss Lynch tells striking NHS consultants to ‘keep fighting’ – as £130,000-a-year medics bring hospitals to a ‘standstill’ in pursuit of MORE cash

  • Hospital consultants on average incomes of £134,000 launched a two day strike
  • The senior medics are refusing to deliver non-urgent care as they seek a 35% rise

Sympathy for striking doctors is ‘wearing thin’ with two-thirds of British adults backing the government’s public sector pay deals, a poll reveals.

Hospital consultants on average incomes of £134,000 today launched a two day walkout that is expected to result in the cancellation of tens of thousands of appointments and operations.

The senior medics are refusing to deliver any non-urgent care as they pursue a 35 per cent pay rise, with waiting lists at a record high of 7.47 million.

But polling data shared exclusively with the Mail reveals 65 per cent of the public think ministers were right to give teachers, doctors and police officers pay rises of around 6 per cent in a bid to bring industrial action to an end.

Meanwhile, Mick Lynch, the militant leader of the RMT railway union, told consultants to ‘keep fighting’ for more pay and ‘seize this dispute through to the bitter end’.

Consultants are rallying outside hospitals and at the BMA’s London headquarters, where they were this afternoon joined by Mick Lynch (pictured), the militant leader of the RMT railway union

Nearly 700,000 NHS appointments have been cancelled since strikes began seven months ago. In the latest five-day walkout by junior doctors, more than 100,000 were called off

The award, which is higher than that given to nurses, led teaching unions to suspend strikes but was dismissed by the British Medical Association as ‘insulting’ and ‘derisory’.

It comes as a new strike law was today granted Royal Assent, allowing ministers to impose minimum levels of service during industrial action by ambulance staff, firefighters, railway workers and those in other sectors deemed essential.

Consultants are rallying outside hospitals and at the BMA’s London headquarters, where they were this afternoon joined by Mr Lynch.

He told the consultants: ‘You have got to keep fighting.

‘As soon as this pay round is over there will be another pay round to come. Then you have got to fight for the funding of our society going forward.

‘A change is coming in this country, I can feel it out there.

READ MORE: Senior doctors announce two extra strike days next month and will walk out again ‘in due course’ following ‘insulting’ 6% pay rise

Despite earning six-figure salaries and amid warnings of a significant impact on waiting lists, the doctors’ union yesterday announced further strike dates on August 24 and 25

‘They told us that everyone would hate us a year ago. They told us we would be beaten in a fortnight – well, we haven’t won but we are far from being beaten.

‘We are determined to get a deal for our people. We hope the BMA is determined to get a deal for their people and seize this dispute through to the bitter end if necessary and fight for the future of our people and to fight for our society.’

To huge applause Mr Lynch said that ‘part of that change’ is to ‘get rid’ of this Government ‘as quickly as possible’.

The consultants strike follows a five-day walkout by junior doctors, which ended on Tuesday and was the longest in the history of the NHS.

The trainee medics have been awarded a pay rise of 6 per cent plus a consolidated payment of £1,250, which is equivalent to an average increase of 8.1 per cent.

But they have vowed to continue striking every month until they receive an inflation-busting 35 per cent.

The survey of 2,052 adults by think tank and pollster More in Common conducted after last week’s pay award found only 19 per cent disagreed with the government’s figure, with widespread backing across supporters of all major political parties.

Some 45 per cent say junior doctors are wrong to continue strike action in light of the hike and only 38 per cent say they are right to plough on.

This is a significant reversal from a previous poll in May, when 48 per cent supported the medics and 35 per cent said they should return to the wards.

Luke Tryl, UK Director of More in Common, said: ‘Having been offered a pay deal which the public think is fair, if overdue – sympathy for striking doctors appears to be wearing thin.

‘Support for striking doctors has reversed compared with our previous polling suggesting that it is now the BMA not the government who has to win the battle for public opinion.’

Consultant members of the British Medical Association during a rally at the BMA headquarters in London on July 20

Consultant members of the British Medical Association on the picket line outside University College London on July 20

BMA consultant leaders have admitted to using patients as ‘leverage’ in their bid for more pay and accept the walkouts will scupper Rishi Sunak’s pledge to cut waits. 

Health secretary Steve Barclay said he was ‘disappointed’ they had decided to plough ahead with their action despite being awarded a 6 per cent pay rise that will see their average incomes rise from £128,000 to £134,000 a year.

The health secretary said doctors have also benefited from recent changes to pension rules and could expect to retire at 65 on an income of £60,000 a year.

Consultants are providing a ‘Christmas Day’ level of service during their strike, meaning they are delivering urgent care only. 

The junior doctors strike was more exhaustive as they withdrew all care, including from cancer wards and A&E, but the impact of the latest action is likely to be greater as the trainees are unable to step-up to cover for absent senior colleagues.

…Despite £126,000 salaries 

Consultants are seeking a 35 per cent pay rise, which they say accounts for the real-terms reduction in their take-home pay since 2008.

But Freedom of Information figures reveal 80 per cent of senior doctors earn more than £102,000 a year, while 50 per cent earn more than £126,000.

Meanwhile the top 10 per cent earn over £176,000 – which is more than the PM’s annual salary. The 6 per cent pay increase, announced last week, will mean the average pay of consultants will rise to £127,000 a year, Health Secretary Steve Barclay said.

The award would be worth an average salary increase of £6,300. A senior doctor who retires at 65 could now also expect to receive a pension ‘in excess of £60,000 per year’.

Health leaders say this is likely to result in the health service grinding to a ‘virtual standstill’.

Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents healthcare organisations, said the NHS will be on ‘red alert’ and ‘adrift and rudderless’ during the strike.

He added: ‘Several members have estimated that each previous round of industrial action from junior doctors has cost them around half a million pounds, so there is an increasing financial toll to this which could run into many billions the longer the walkouts continue.’

The BMA says consultants pay has been cut in real-terms since 2008 and is calling for pay restoration and reform of the pay review body that advises ministers on salary increases.

It claims their income has increased by 14 per cent over this period, while the likes of lawyers, accountants and architects have seen rises of almost 80 per cent.

Dr Vishal Sharma, chair of the BMA consultants committee, 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, about our a loss in our pay in real terms of 35 per cent and the broken pay review system that has allowed this to happen.

‘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.

‘Consultants will stand on the picket lines today because we are angry and at rock bottom.’

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