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The Battle for Change: Why Junior Doctors in the NHS Are Striking

Communications Team

Communications Team

July 12, 2023


In recent years, the National Health Service (NHS) has witnessed a series of strikes by its dedicated workforce. Among those leading the charge for change are the junior doctors, who have taken to the picket lines to highlight the challenges they face within the healthcare system. This blog article aims to shed light on the reasons behind the junior doctors' strikes and the underlying issues they seek to address.

  1. Long Working Hours and Fatigue

One of the primary concerns raised by junior doctors is the excessive working hours and subsequent fatigue they endure. In a profession where long shifts and irregular schedules are the norm, junior doctors often find themselves working relentless hours, compromising both their physical and mental well-being. Fatigue can lead to increased medical errors, reduced patient safety, and negatively impact the quality of care provided. Striking serves as a means to emphasise the need for more reasonable working hours that prioritise patient safety and doctor's well-being.

  1. Inadequate Pay and Recognition

Junior doctors play a crucial role in the NHS, yet they feel undervalued and underpaid for their dedication and hard work. Many junior doctors have expressed concerns about their stagnant pay, especially when compared to the increasing cost of living. They argue that fair compensation is vital to attract and retain talent in the healthcare sector, ensuring the provision of high-quality care to patients. The British Medical Association (BMA) is urging the government to address what they perceive as a significant pay reduction for doctors in real terms since 2009.

According to the BMA's calculations, junior doctors in England have experienced a 26 percent decrease in their pay in real terms between 2009 and 2022, primarily due to below-inflation salary increments. To rectify this situation, the BMA asserts that the government would need to grant doctors a 35 percent raise for the year 2022-23.

  1. Patient Safety and Staffing Levels

The junior doctors' strikes also revolve around patient safety concerns and the impact of understaffing on healthcare outcomes. Overworked doctors are more likely to experience burnout and have less time to spend with patients, potentially compromising the quality of care. Insufficient staffing levels in hospitals can put patient safety at risk, with doctors stretched thin across multiple wards and specialties. Striking serves as a wake-up call to address the understaffing crisis, demanding appropriate staffing levels to ensure optimal patient care and safety.

  1. Contract Disputes and Working Conditions

Contract disputes have been a significant catalyst for the junior doctors' strikes. Proposed changes to contracts, such as modifications to unsocial hours pay and altered work patterns, have caused discontent among junior doctors. They argue that these changes could negatively impact their work-life balance, job satisfaction, and ultimately affect patient care. Striking provides an opportunity to voice concerns over contract terms and negotiate fair working conditions that are conducive to a healthier work-life balance for doctors.


The strikes led by junior doctors within the NHS are not merely about wages and working hours; they are a testament to the underlying issues plaguing the healthcare system. These dedicated professionals are fighting for improved patient safety, fair compensation, better working conditions, and adequate staffing levels. Their collective voice seeks to bring about positive change that will benefit both healthcare providers and patients alike. As we navigate the complex challenges facing our healthcare system, it is imperative to listen to the concerns of junior doctors and work towards sustainable solutions that prioritise the well-being of our healthcare workforce and the delivery of exceptional patient care.

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