Junior doctors in Wales begin strike amid pay disputes


LONDON, Feb. 21 (Xinhua) -- Thousands of junior doctors in Wales began a three-day strike on Wednesday over continued pay disputes, the second walkout since January, the British Medical Association (BMA) announced.

"No doctor wants to strike but years of undervaluing our lifesaving service have led us here. Junior doctors in Wales have experienced a pay cut of 29.6 percent in real terms over the last 15 years," Oba Babs-Osibodu and Peter Fahey, co-chairs of BMA Cymru Wales' junior doctors committee, said in a press release.

"It is no surprise that we are losing doctors as they search for better pay and conditions elsewhere. Losing our doctors at a time when waiting lists are at record highs will mean patients suffering more than they are already," they added.

Despite the government's commitment to full pay restoration to 2008 levels, its first and final offer for junior doctors was an uplift of 5 percent, the worst pay offer for junior doctors in the United Kingdom (UK), according to the BMA.

About 4,000 junior doctors with up to 11 years of experience out of medical school work in Wales, making up 40 percent of its total medical workforce.

"As always, it is patients who bear the greatest burden from industrial action, with around 41 percent of outpatient appointments and 61 percent of operations postponed across Wales in the last wave of industrial action by junior doctors in January," Director of the Welsh NHS Confederation Darren Hughes said in a statement.

"The impact of strike action is not just felt on the days of industrial action, but also following industrial action when the service does its best to catch up on postponed patient appointments and cancellations," Hughes added.

Amid long-time pay disputes, a new round of junior doctor strike in England is also scheduled to take place from Feb. 24.

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