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A STRIKING doctor likened the NHS to the Titanic as thousands went on strike across England today in the first-ever joint walkout by consultants and junior doctors.
Speaking outside University College London Hospital, 30-year-old junior doctor Hamish Bain said: “I feel like the violinists on the Titanic, the ship is going down. It’s already happening, people are leaving, patients are suffering as a consequence.
“My mum is waiting for an NHS appointment, and I had to say well that’s the NHS for you.”
The strike came as the British Medical Association (BMA) announced that a third group of doctors are exploring whether or not to take strike action.
Specialist, Associate Specialist and Speciality (SAS) doctors are to hold an indicative ballot, which opens next week.
The doctors’ union said that the 15,600 SAS doctors in England have “seen their real-terms pay plummet by as much as 31 per cent” in the last 15 years.
Today, some 30 doctors endured sodden conditions to picket outside Leeds General Infirmary.
Radiology consultant Damian Tolan, who works at nearby St James’s Hospital, said: “It’s unbelievable to me that I’m actually stood outside my hospital when I could be inside doing work.
“I’d really hope that the population appreciates that this is actually historic, in a terrible way.”
Owen Collerton, a doctor in his second foundation year picketing outside Aintree University Hospital, said: “You can’t work in the NHS without noticing the trend of people going overseas because they need to be paid enough to support a growing family or get on the property ladder.
“I don’t have children but loads of my colleagues at the same level or slightly above me do have children, or were mature students, and have the same amount of debt as I do. It can be really tough.”
Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “Consultants and junior doctors walking out together is the awful scenario health leaders have long feared.
“Leaders will have pulled every lever available to them to mitigate the impact of this strike.
“But it is inevitable that patient safety is compromised and we believe that the level of risk is the highest we’ve seen for a long time.”
Junior doctors will continue to strike on Thursday and Friday this week.
Further joint strikes by consultants and junior doctors are planned for October 2, 3 and 4.
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