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Junior doctors kick off second round of strike action in Wales

JUNIOR DOCTORS took to the picket lines again today in Wales to kick off the second round of a three-day strike action over pay.

Thousands of junior doctors in Wales are demanding a fairer deal after the Welsh government said that it could not afford to increase its 5 per cent pay offer. 

The 72-hour walkout until 7am on February 24 will see more than 3,000 doctors withdraw their labour across Wales and most planned operations postponed.

Junior doctor Meg at the Princess of Wales Hospital Bridgend had just finished a night shift in accident and emergency before joining the picket line.

“We are expected to do so much for so little and I could easily get this level of pay in another less stressful job,” she said.

Anna had joined her colleagues on strike straight from her job in the acute medical unit. She explained that she had had enough and would be taking a break from training and the job for a year.

“I will be going abroad for a year in Australia where as a doctor I will be paid more and the work-life balance is so much better,” Anna said.

Health Minister Elunid Morgan took to BBC Wales radio to say that the Welsh government had cut all budgets to fund the NHS pay deal.

“We have paid junior doctors a 5 per cent pay rise the same as everybody else in the NHS, but we had to go round the Cabinet cutting other budgets to fund the rise,” Ms Morgan said.

The health minister also explained that the NHS was the Welsh government’s top priority and was raising next year’s budget by 4 per cent, compared to 1 per cent in England.

BMA Wales junior doctors co-chairman Dr Oba Babs-Osibodu said: “We can call off this strike today if the Welsh government puts forward a credible pay offer to form the basis of talks. 

“No doctor wants to strike but years of undervaluing our life-saving service have led us here. 

“Junior doctors in Wales have experienced a pay cut of 29.6 per cent in real terms over the last 15 years.” 

Talks between the health minister and BMA Wales take place late today but neither side expect a breakthrough leading to an announcement.

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