Junior doctors are on the picket lines taking strike action over unhappiness at their level of pay and working conditions - and figures show just how much of Greater Manchester’s hospital workforce they make up.
The British Medical Association (BMA) is currently in dispute with the government and demanding restoration of pay, saying junior doctors have had a real-terms pay cut of more than a quarter over the past 15 years.
And figures show just how dependent the NHS in Greater Manchester is on junior doctors. The statistics show they account for more than half of all medics at some hospital trusts in the city-region.
The current round of strike action, which lasts four days, has prompted concerns over how hospitals will cope, while the Government and the BMA remain at loggerheads with ministers this week calling the professional body’s pay demand “unreasonable”.
How many junior doctors work in Greater Manchester’s hospitals?
Figures from NHS England show how many junior doctors are working in hospitals across Greater Manchester. At Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust junior doctors made up more than half of the medical workforce, with 53.3% of medics not being consultants. Altogether the trust had the full-time equivalent of 1,759 full-time junior doctors out of 3,297 doctors.
It is a similar picture at Stockport NHS Foundation Trust, where doctors below the level of consultants also account for more than half of the medical workforce. There were the equivalent of 297 full-time junior doctors working at the trust, or 53.6% of the 554 doctors employed there.
At the Northern Care Alliance, which has four hospitals in the city-region including Salford Royal, there were the equivalent of 884 full-time junior doctors, meaning they accounted 46.9% of the 1,884 doctors working there.
And at the Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust junior doctors made up 42.6 of medics, with 167 doctors employed of which 71 were below the level of a consultant.
At specialist cancer hospital The Christie NHS Foundation Trust, junior doctors made up a third of medics, with the equivalent of 107 full-time junior doctors out of 302 doctors employed.
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. The figures are as of December 2022.
What has been said about junior doctors’ role in the NHS?
Junior doctors receive a wide range of salaries. Foundation Year 1 doctors – the most junior category – start on £14.09 an hour, or around £29,000 a year.
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.
The BMA says urgent changes to junior doctors’ pay and conditions are necessary to solve major problems with recruitment and retention of staff in the NHS. Junior doctors on the picket line this week have said the health service is already struggling but some of their colleagues are struggling to make ends meet with their salaries, particularly given the impact of the cost of living crisis.
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.
Professor Sir Stephen Powis, national medical director for the NHS in England, said the strike action will cause “unparalleled” upheaval and will be the “most disruptive in NHS history”.
The BMA said that while it could not guarantee patients would not be put at risk during the strike action lives are being put in danger all the time at the moment due to the current situation the NHS faces.