Junior doctors make up more than half of medics at Bedfordshire Hospitals Trust – as strike takes place across England

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The strike is set to end Saturday (April 15)

More than half of all doctors at Bedfordshire Hospitals Trust are junior doctors, figures show – as a massive walk-out takes place this week.

This week, junior doctors are striking over poor pay and working conditions – with the British Medical Association (BMA) saying junior doctors have suffered a 26% real-terms cut to their pay since 2008-09.

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Figures from NHS England show there were the equivalent of 623 full-time junior doctors working at Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (Bedford Hospital and Luton & Dunstable Hospital) as of December – 53.5% of the 1,164 doctors working at the trust.

Across England there were 66,000 junior doctors working for hospital and community health services as of December 2022, making up 49.9% of all clinicians.

A strike organised by the BMA – which represents around 50,000 junior doctors – is set to last 96 hours, ending on Saturday, April 15.

Figures for the number striking by NHS Trust were not available.

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Luton and Dunstable Hospital

Any doctor below consultant level is referred to as 'junior', meaning junior doctors encompass doctors just starting in the NHS and those who have been training for many years for specialist positions.

They receive a wide range of salaries, with 'Foundation Year 1 doctors' – the most junior category – starting on £14.09 an hour, or around £29,000 a year.

Bedfordshire Hospitals Trust has 99 such doctors working at the trust at this point, alongside a further 67 second year foundation doctors.

The number of junior doctors has been increasing across England over the past decade as part of a wider uptick in clinicians working for the NHS.

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In December 2019, prior to the coronavirus pandemic, there were the equivalent of 57,000 full-time junior doctors, representing 48.7% of the workforce.

Bedfordshire Hospitals Trust had 311 junior doctors at this point, or 49.2% of all doctors working at the organisation.

Health Secretary Steve Barclay said the walkouts have “clearly been timed to have an impact on patients”, given increased pressures on the health service after the Easter break.

“We recognise junior doctors have been under significant pressure, particularly from the pandemic, and we want to work with them to find a fair and reasonable settlement,” he added.

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Professor Sir Stephen Powis, national medical director for the NHS in England, said the strike action – which began at 7am and will continue until Saturday morning – will cause “unparalleled” upheaval and will be the “most disruptive in NHS history”.

Dr Sumi Manirajan, deputy co-chairwoman of the BMA’s junior doctors committee, told Sky News: “I can’t guarantee that no lives will be put at risk but what I can guarantee is that 500 patients are dying (every week) waiting for care at the moment,” she said.

She said the union will guarantee emergency and essential care over the strike period, adding that "lives are being put at risk every single week” as things stand.