Junior Doctor On Strike Claims Tories Have Made NHS Among The Worst Health Systems In Europe

"I don’t believe the British people are safe with this government running the NHS," Dr Andrew Meyerson said.
NHS strikes over pay and conditions have been rocking the health service for months now.
NHS strikes over pay and conditions have been rocking the health service for months now.
Future Publishing via Getty Images

A junior doctor has slammed the government, claiming the Conservatives have made the NHS “among the worst in Europe”.

Dr Andrew Meyerson was on Sky News on Friday shortly after junior doctors in England launched their fifth round of industrial action over pay and working conditions.

Members of the British Medication Association will strike until 7am next Tuesday in a move which could result in appointment cancellations due to the industrial action reaching one million.

Since December, the strikes are estimated to have cost the NHS close to £1 billion – but PM Rishi Sunak has refused to engage in more pay negotiations.

Pressed on the reasons why junior doctors are striking again, Meyerson said: “Can I be brutally honest with you? I don’t believe the British people are safe with this government running the NHS.

“I firmly believe that – they have allowed the system to go from the best in the world from 10 years ago to among the worst in Europe now.

“I think that’s just awful. They do not deserve to look after the NHS any longer.”

The Tories have been in power since 2010, and have been accused of persistently underfunding the NHS over the years until the service seems to be on its last legs.

Responding to claims from health secretary Steve Barclay that the strikes are only worsening the quality of care for patients, Meyerson said: “This is very much a last option for us. We do not want to be here, we are desperate to go back and work.

“You see that the government in Scotland handled it in a very different way, making a reasonable offer to our BMA colleagues in Scotland, to signal to them that their work is important, that their labour is important.

“We have not had any similar commitment from this government to any aspect of patient care in this country for a very long time.”

He said patient waiting lists were “pushing five million” even before Covid hit, and then they were exacerbated by the government’s “disastrous pandemic response”.

On Thursday, it was revealed NHS waiting lists have reached 7.6 million, a record high, even though the prime minister vowed back in January that he would cut waiting times.

Meyerson continued: “This is the crux of it: no matter what we do in the last 10 years, no matter how many experts in this country tell the government their health policy is wrong – it’s wasting your money – no matter what, they refuse to listen.

“And despite all of our best efforts to avoid any strike action, this is now the fifth time this government is allowing this to happen.

“Rishi Sunak is the son of an NHS GP. You’d think he’d actually care about the health service, but he’s going to be responsible for seeing its demise.

“It’s heartbreaking for us on the frontline to see the patient experience as awful and terrible as it is right now.”

The Department of Health and Social Care has defended the 6% pay rise it has offered to junior doctors, along with an additional consolidated £1,250.

The government has said this is “fair and reasonable” and “above what most in the public and private sectors are receiving”, as it works out to a supposed “average increase of around 8.8%”.

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