British Medical Association raps top physician for suggesting doctors should not go on strike
- Dr Sarah Clarke said strike action was the ‘right route’ for doctors pay dispute
- The British Medical Association has hit back and attacked Dr Clarke’s remarks
- It told her to apologise for ‘undermining the collective efforts of the profession’
- Dr Clarke is the new president of the Royal College of Physicians
The doctors’ union has attacked the country’s top physician for suggesting they should not go on strike because of the risk to patient care.
Dr Sarah Clarke, new president of the Royal College of Physicians, said on Saturday she did not think strike action was ‘the right route’ to resolve pay disputes because ‘you’re talking about patients here’.
The British Medical Association demanded she apologise for ‘undermining the collective efforts of the profession’.
In a letter, seen by the Mail, the union suggested Dr Clarke may not ‘appreciate the plight of doctors elsewhere in the NHS’. It said industrial action appeared to be the only option for health staff to challenge their ‘woeful treatment’ by the Government.
Dr Sarah Clarke, new president of the Royal College of Physicians, said on Saturday she did not think strike action was ‘the right route’ to resolve pay disputes because ‘you’re talking about patients here’
The BMA has called for a pay rise of up to 30 per cent. It will ballot junior doctor members on strike action if the Government does not improve on its offer of a 2 per cent pay rise by the end of the month.
Dr Clarke, who said she sympathised the ‘exhausted and demoralised’ workforce later tried to clarify her comments, saying that she and the RCP supported the right of union members to go on strike.
Dr Clarke also conceded that it is not within the RCP’s ‘usual remit to comment on pay negotiations’ as it is not a trade union.
But it was not enough to quell the fury of the BMA, with chair Professor Phil Banfield and deputy chair Dr Emma Runswick writing to Dr Clarke on Sunday to express ‘serious concerns’ about her remarks.
The British Medical Association demanded she apologise for ‘undermining the collective efforts of the profession’
Dr Runswick’s motion on ‘pay restoration’ was passed overwhelmingly at the BMA conference in Brighton in June.
The junior doctor from Salford told the conference that medics should not ‘be tempted to accept a pathetic future for our profession’.
The motion covered all doctors, including consultants who earn an average of £120,000 a year, GPs who on average earn £100,000, and junior doctors, who typically earn between £29,000 and £58,000.
In response to the BMA’s letter, Dr Clarke issued ‘a heartfelt apology’.
In a statement published on the RCP website, she said: ‘I have been deeply affected by the strength of feeling expressed on social media and in other messages I have received and want to apologise for my comments which I feel have been misrepresented.’
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