COLCHESTER Hospital’s junior doctors have walked out for four days as they continue to push for a wage restoration of 35 per cent.

A picket line of about six junior doctors held placards and spoke to members of the public on Tuesday morning, with the 96-hour walk-out set to last until 7am on Saturday.

The action continues the long-running dispute, with a three-day strike having previously taken place last month.

The NHS estimates as many as 350,000 appointments across England will be cancelled due to the industrial action, with many doctors being moved from hospital wards to accident and emergency units so urgent medical care can be prioritised.

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But junior doctors have argued they are currently earning 35 per cent less than they were in 2008 and that a decade of austerity has resulted in NHS staff struggling to offer adequate levels of care across the sector.

One junior doctor on the picket line, Megan, said although she felt guilty about striking, she also felt there is no other way to illustrate the severity of the problem.

She said: “Yes [I do feel guilty], but I also feel guilty working in in stretched services as well.

Gazette: Standing firm – junior doctors have said striking is the only way they will see an improvement in conditions and payStanding firm – junior doctors have said striking is the only way they will see an improvement in conditions and pay (Image: Daniel Rees, Newsquest)

“I want more doctors on the hospital floor because the more we cope, the more we are stretched.”

When asked about the appointments and operations which will be postponed due to the strikes, she said junior doctors had resorted to the action because of a lack of willing from the government to engage with the British Medical Association, the union which represents junior doctors.

“The strikes are going to be disruptive – that’s the whole point of a strike.

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“We need (Health Secretary) Steve Barclay to come and talk to us – we are doing this because we are in crisis."

On the junior doctors’ demands for a pay increase in 35 per cent, she said junior doctors are as valuable now as they were in 2008, and should therefore have the same level of real-terms pay.

“I’m not a negotiator, but the [real-terms pay gap] sits at 35 per cent – we are not worth 35 per cent less than we were in 2008.

“For us, striking is a devastating decision.”