Nick Robinson erupts at doctors union chief in BBC clash over pay rise

Nick Robinson erupted at the chief of the doctor’s union in a fiery clash this morning as he questioned planned Christmas and New Year strikes.

The veteran BBC interviewer took the chief of the BMA council to task over plans for junior doctors to participate in the longest strikes the NHS has seen since its inception.

The BMA rejected an improved pay deal and greet Christmas strike action earlier this month, leaving just four days unaffected by industrial action or holidays until January.

Mr Robinson has slammed Professor Philip Banfield for “striking for more money” after the Government offered doctors a three percent pay rise on top of an already agreed 8.8 percent.

He accused the union of taking money to strike and “make patient care worse”, but the chief defended the move, stating the organisation wants to protect the service by ensuring cash-strapped doctors don’t leave.

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Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Robinson said striking is not the way to get more money for doctors employed by the health service.

He said: “You’re striking for more money. If we want to get more money into the NHS we have an election.

“We have elected people, we don’t pay doctors to go on strike in order to make patient care worse than you’re saying it is.”

Professor Banfield hit back, stating better pay is vital for ensuring that the NHS can retain the doctors it hires, who are struggling under mountains of debt with little pay.

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He explained: “What we’re doing is we’re trying to retain the doctors that we have. Our new doctors are qualifying with up to £100,000 of debt, having trained for five years.

“They are earning just under £16 an hour, they’ve found that their salaries have gone down in real terms by 25 percent. That’s one of the highest fallouts in real terms across the public sector.”

Mr Robinson said it was “time to talk, not to walk out on the eve of Christmas”, adding that the Government appeared willing to negotiate.

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The BMA has not walked out of talks with ministers, and the Professor said the organisation is willing to speak over Christmas.

The union rejected the additional three percent offered earlier this month after stating it was “unevenly spread across doctors’ grades” and would “still amount to pay cuts for many doctors this year”.

Dr Robert Laurenson and Dr Vivek Trivedi, BMA junior doctors committee co-chairs, said the Government is “still not prepared to address the real-terms pay cut doctors have experienced since 2008”.

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