Senior doctors in England to strike again in September -union

LONDON (Reuters) -Senior doctors in England plan to strike again in September unless the government agrees to more pay negotiations, their union said on Monday, and the health department restated that its last pay offer was “final.”

The NHS has been disrupted by healthcare workers walking out in demand of pay rises to cope with record inflation, but the government has resisted those calls arguing that such hikes could entrench rising prices.

The dispute has resulted in thousands of hospital appointments being cancelled, increasing pressure on the NHS which was already struggling with record waiting lists.

Consultant-level doctors in Britain’s publicly funded National Health Service (NHS) will strike on Sept. 19 and 20, the British Medical Association (BMA), said in a statement.

“It is now 133 days since the Secretary of State last met with us … We are once again appealing to the Health Secretary to return to the table,” BMA Consultants Committee Chair Dr Vishal Sharma said.

Senior doctors took industrial action for two days in July, and are already scheduled to do so again later in August.

“It is disappointing consultants have announced further strike dates affecting patients and hampering efforts to cut NHS waiting lists,” a spokesperson for the government’s Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said.

“We have accepted the independent pay review body recommendations in full, giving consultants a 6% pay rise … This pay award is final.”

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak last month said “no amount of strikes will change” the government’s decision on public sector pay. Teaching unions had responded by pausing strikes, but doctors’ unions were unimpressed after what they say have been years of pay erosion for their members.

(Reporting by William James, writing by Muvija M; editing by Grant McCool)