Express & Star

Star comment: Give and take needed on both sides over doctors' pay

The disruption to public services during a winter of strikes has been substantial.


From railway workers to ambulance drivers, and from passport handlers to nurses; vast numbers of workers have sacrificed wages in their bid for a better deal.

Credit goes to both sides of such disputes for finding resolutions. The Government has struck tough deals, mindful of the need to protect the public purse at a time when the nation’s finances are in a sorry state. Unions have fought hard to protect workers and seek a better distribution of income. Tired of the rich getting richer at the expense of their members, they have been determined, resolute, and committed.

The resolution of such disputes should, hopefully, provide hope for the settlement of a stand-off involving doctors. Junior doctors are being pushed to breaking point and have drawn a line in the sand. They have decided that enough is enough and if they are not to be better compensated for the huge volume of work they undertake then they will withdraw their labour altogether. It is time for the Government to make a move, to end the stalemate.

The impact of the junior doctors’ strike will be felt by many and lives will be put at risk. The doctors will say the Government is responsible for that unacceptable position, the Government will blame the doctors. Such rhetoric, however, is neither helpful nor does it go one iota towards solving the dispute.

Waiting lists are already too high while the impact of the strike will be to make those matters considerably worse. Whether people oppose or support the strikes, they must accept that the work of junior doctors is integral to our health system. We rely on their endeavours on a daily basis and will do more so in the future as they become fully trained and develop greater expertise. Their absence from the health service will leave the system creaking at a time when it is already underfunded and over-stretched.

A candid national conversation is required about the NHS. There are many who consider that it has been downgraded during recent years and not simply because of the stresses and strains of Covid. The latest strike will put huge pressure on emergency care and the public will suffer.

Everything possible must be done to help those in urgent need of care while the public at large should avoiding taking unnecessary risks.

What matters most is getting staff back into work and there must be give and take on both sides as compromises are offered and resolutions are sought.