NHS strikes: What 'massively overstretched' doctors on the Black Country's picket lines are really saying
Striking junior doctors and consultants took to the picket lines in the Black Country on Wednesday as health leaders said this strike poses the "biggest challenge" yet to NHS trusts up and down the country.
Doctors picketed on Wednesday outside Walsall Manor Hospital, as well as New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton and Russells Hall in Dudley. A sign held by one striking doctor in Walsall said: "One doctor, £14 an hour, 120 sick patients."
Thousands of medics who are members of the British Medical Association walked out of NHS hospitals nationwide on Wednesday, with thousands of patient operations and appointments needing to be rescheduled.
Hospitals put in place Christmas Day-style rotas, meaning emergencies were prioritised but most routine work needed to be stopped.
A consultant at Walsall Manor told the Express & Star that the junior doctors and consultants are "massively overstretched" which is making it "increasingly difficult" to maintain the standard of care.
They said: "It's been a progressive deterioration in working terms and conditions and pay. There have been year on year below inflation pay rises.
"Over the past ten years, I've had a 35 per cent pay cut relative to inflation. Compared to my contract in 2010, I'm working the equivalent of two out of five days a week.
"I still enjoy my job but it's getting harder and harder to do. We're massively overstretched, everyone is overworked across the board and things will only get worse.
"It has a knock-on effect. Work conditions and pay for junior doctors is so poor compared to what they are paid and treated like elsewhere, so here's a problem with staff retention and the problem will only get worse for the NHS.
"And because of staffing problems and everything that goes with it, waiting times for any treatment just rising up and up and up."