The winter months of December, January and February tend to be the busiest for the NHS which consequently places the greatest amount of pressure on it. However, junior doctors from the British Medical Association (BMA) have demanded a staggering 35% pay rise which they claim would represent full pay restoration to 2008 levels. The BMA has claimed that since 2008 junior doctors have had a 26% cut because pay rises have been below inflation. Their demand for this restoration has been refused by the government which instead has offered a more affordable average 8.8% rise. The NHS strikes in the last year resulted 1.2 million cancelled appointments which in total cost an estimated £2 billion and is additional funding that the taxpayer will have to make up.

The six day strike recently finished by the doctors was set to be the most disruptive the NHS has ever faced because the junior doctors had deliberately chosen to take action after Christmas and the bank holidays involved, designated to cause the greatest amount of pressure in an attempt to get their pay rise. They have put many lives on the line, especially those with cancer and other diseases, as non-striking doctors have to cover emergencies.

Last year, when the junior doctors went on strike at the beginning of spring, according to the Office of National Statistics, 22,571 deaths were recorded between 25th February and 10th March. This represented a significant increase of 11.1% compared to usual levels. A clear trend has been seen with strikes; when the strikes occur, deaths usually increase materially. The doctors going on strike seemed to care more about their pay than they do the Britons they are tasked to care for.

After 10 years of working as a junior doctor, one can expect their salary to double as shown by statistics presented by the BBC. A new doctor who studied for a Master’s in infectious biology earns a wage of £29,384 before tax; once a specialist they can expect that salary to closer to £60,000. It appears that despite the fact that on average consultants are the 6th highest paid in the world, with £117,878 per annum according to Wisestep, a job-advice and information website, it simply is not enough. This is in addition to generous pension schemes when compared with those available to the private sector.

Ultimately, the demands and the ignorance of the junior doctors continue to cost themselves and the country dearly; only a small majority of people now vocally support the strikes after so much disruption. The best decision for the doctors to avoid more shame is to call off all future strikes.