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Doctors in England Offered 6% Pay Rise as Waiting Lists Lengthen

NHS doctors in England will continue with strike action despite Rishi Sunak saying a 6% pay deal was the "final offer".

The Prime Minister, whose offer of a 6.5% deal for teachers looked set to end that industrial dispute, challenged other unions to "know when to say yes" after he accepted the recommendations of independent pay review bodies.

Junior doctors, who began their longest walkout yet in England on Thursday, will receive 6% rises, along with an additional consolidated £1250 increase. Hospital consultants, set to strike in England next week, will receive a 6% rise.

At a Downing Street press conference Mr Sunak called on the British Medical Association (BMA) to help "make the NHS strong again" and avoid further disruption. He insisted that aside from a decision on pay, the Government had "backed the NHS with record funding, delivered the first ever, fully funded long-term workforce plan, and met the BMA's number one ask of Government, with a pensions tax cut worth £1 billion".

The Prime Minister added: "So, we should all ask ourselves, whether union leaders, or indeed political leaders, how can it be right to continue disruptive industrial action?"

But BMA chairman of council Professor Phil Banfield said: "This Government is driving doctors away from the NHS and this country; it needs to wake up and realise the true cost of keeping the expertise of doctors." It was also "highly likely" that other kinds of doctors represented by the BMA, GPs and specialty doctors, "will consider their next steps", he warned.

Record Hospital Waiting Lists

The pay announcement came as new data revealed that NHS waiting lists in England have climbed to a record level.

Figures released on Thursday showed that 7.47 million people were waiting to start routine hospital treatment at the end of May, up from 7.42 million at the end of April.

It is the highest number since records began in August 2007.

In May, some 385,022 people had been waiting more than 52 weeks to start routine hospital treatment, up from 371,111 at the end of April.

During the same period, 11,446 people were estimated to have been waiting 18 months to start treatment, down slightly from 11,477.

The Government and NHS England have set the ambition of eliminating all waits of more than a year by March 2025.

Earlier this month, Mr Sunak said industrial action across the NHS is making it "more challenging" to bring down waiting lists. It is estimated that 8 months of strikes has led to the cancellation or postponement of about 651,000 appointments and routine procedures.

Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive at NHS Providers, said: "Chronic workforce shortages and a lack of physical capacity cross the NHS and social care are hindering trusts' ability to improve waiting times and cut the backlog. "On top of that, ongoing industrial action is adding to the weight of demand on hospital, ambulance, mental health, and community services."

Professor Sir Stephen Powis, NHS national medical director, said: "Every new month brings more evidence of record demand across many areas of NHS care with staff experiencing the busiest June ever for A&E attendances, no doubt exacerbated by the record high temperatures experienced for that month."

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