CONSULTANTS and junior doctors in the NHS have today begun an unprecedented joint strike which will last until Wednesday.
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt described the mass strike by the British Medical Association this morning as “completely unacceptable”.
After the first strike on September 20th, this is the second joint strike by both medical grades.
NHS bosses say all planned operations and appointments will come to a “near standstill” due to the protest.
Jeremy Hunt was formerly chairman of the House of Commons Health Committee, where he campaigned for NHS reform and better working conditions for medical professionals.
As health minister, he also fought against a strike by young doctors in 2015 and 2016.
He said today that patient safety would be “close to the limit” in this week’s action.
Mr Hunt told Times Radio: “I think we are getting close to the limit and I don’t think we should be taking any risks at all with patient safety.
“We offered doctors a pay rise above inflation – that was not the government’s suggestion, but the suggestion of an independent pay review body.”
Since the strikes began in December last year, more than a million appointments, surgeries and treatments have been canceled.
Hospitals are spending millions of pounds to cover the costs of the ongoing strikes.
In some cases, top doctors were paid up to £7,900 to cover a single shift during a strike, The Times reported.
Mr Hunt said: “This is a huge sum of money.
“The money paid to a doctor for this shift cannot be spent on getting someone off the waiting list by performing an urgently needed operation.
“That’s why these strikes are so counterproductive for patients.”