February 22, 2024

Healthcare Strikes Could Cost England’s Hospitals ‘Billions’

On Thursday, many of England’s senior hospital doctors walked out at the start of a 48-hour strike over pay.

Although they are still providing emergency care, thousands of routine appointments for things like planned surgery and outpatient clinics will be cancelled.

Hospital trusts, which provide publicly funded healthcare across the country, are spending more money on staff from medical agencies during the strikes, as well as expensive extra administrative work to rearrange thousands of appointments.

The strikes – the latest round of industrial action for public health service staff during an eight-month walkout – are costing some major hospital providers up to $645,000 (£500,000) a day (£500,000) a day.

Taylor heads the NHS Confederation, which represents much of the UK’s healthcare sector.

He told the Guardian the total cost of months of staff strikes to hospitals could run into the billions of pounds.

He urged ministers and union leaders to resolve their disputes as soon as possible to reduce the costly burden on hospitals.

“Some [health leaders] It is estimated that each previous round of industrial action by junior doctors has cost them around half a million pounds, so the financial toll on this is increasing which could be in the billions as long as the walkouts continue,” he said.

“The longer these strikes continue, the more money the NHS will have to spend on their eye acquisition costs as waiting lists rise further and vital changes need to be covered at higher rates.”

Why are doctors beaten?

Many staff in the UK public sector have walked out over the past eight months in disputes over pay and working conditions. This includes railway workers and border staff as well as many National Health Service employees.

In healthcare, nurses, ambulance staff, physiotherapists and doctors have gone on strike. Union leaders say wages have risen far slower than inflation, leaving employees out of pocket, and making it harder for hospitals to recruit and retain staff.

As the population ages and demand for services increases, maintaining a healthy workforce will become even more important. The unions argue that patient safety is a risk without a sustainable supply of staff.

Ministers argue that wages cannot be increased significantly, and that it could itself drive inflation.

Rebecca Fish, a consultant colorectal and peritoneal surgeon in Manchester in north east England told the Guardian wage increases were necessary as working conditions became more difficult. “The conditions we work under are getting tougher coming out of the pandemic and the underfunding of the whole system made me worry about who’s going to look after me when I’m old if no one wants to be a consultant anymore,” she said.

Shevantha Rosa, a consultant neuroradiologist in London, told the paper that his fellow doctors were considering moving abroad, “not only because of pay but also because of the work-life balance”.

“It feels like it’s just this slow victimization of doctors,” he said. He said medicine is a “less attractive career”.

Disputes by some groups have largely come to an end after a pay rise. But for some groups of staff, industrial action may have just begun.

Junior doctors – qualified physicians with up to eight years’ experience in hospitals – walked out last week, causing thousands of planned appointments to be cancelled.

This week’s action by senior doctors — known as consultants in the UK — is the first for a decade by this group of staff. They plan to strike again next month if an agreement is not reached.

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