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Senior doctors accept improved pay offer and end strikes

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Senior doctors in England have voted to accept an improved offer from the government on pay and conditions, easing some pressure on National Health Service (NHS) after months of disruptive strike action.

The British Medical Association (BMA) trade union said on Friday about 83 per cent of senior doctors, also known as consultants, voted in favour of the offer, on a 62 per cent turnout. It comes after consultants rejected a pay deal in January.

A separate long-running dispute with junior doctors, who staged five days of strikes in February, is ongoing.

Strike action over the last two years has heaped more pressure on the NHS, where more than seven million patients are on waiting lists for hospital treatment, leading to thousands of cancelled appointments and procedures.

It has also added to pressure on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in an election year, with his Conservatives heavily trailing the opposition Labour Party in opinion polls.

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“The end of consultant strike action in the NHS is excellent news for patients,” Sunak said. “It will mean we can continue making progress towards our goal of cutting the waiting lists, which have now fallen for the fourth month in a row.”

The pay deal for senior doctors, which includes changes to a doctors’ pay review body and a 2.85 per cent uplift for those who have been senior doctors for four to seven years, comes after senior doctors rejected a previous offer in a narrow vote in January.

“After years of repeated real-terms pay cuts, caused by government interference and a failure of the pay review process, consultants have spoken and now clearly feel that this offer is enough of a first step to address our concerns to end the current dispute,” BMA consultants committee chair Vishal Sharma said. (Reuters)

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