Welsh doctors on strike rallied at the Senedd on Tuesday (Picture: BMA Cymru)

Junior doctors in Wales ended their three-day strike on Wednesday in high spirits.

Around 600 strikers had joined a protest outside the Senedd on Tuesday. It was one of the largest ever held outside the Welsh parliament.

Doctors are furious at the Labour-led government’s refusal to increase its 5 percent pay offer. Their BMA Cymru Wales union is demanding pay be restored to 2008 levels.

That would mean a rise of around 30 percent. This, it says, is the only way to keep doctors working in the NHS in both England and Wales.

Efan Fairclough is a medical student at Cardiff university. Talking about the strikes, he said, “I find it quite inspiring. We’ve started a medical student movement to improve staff retention in the NHS.

“A big part of that is increasing pay for junior doctors, so it’s inspiring to see people we’re learning from taking action to improve the NHS.”

Hannah Wise is a surgical trainee. She said, “We have seen our pay erode by 29 percent since 2008. Doctors today are not worth a third less than the doctors that preceded us.

“A doctor today starts on £13.65 an hour and this is not acceptable.”

“The government is not investing in doctors and this means more doctors than ever leave to work in other countries.”

Union reps across Wales report good, lively picket lines at hospitals. They add that doctors’ confidence to speak out has grown on each day of the strike.

“We’ve been inundated with support from both the public and other health workers,” Joshua, a GP trainee doctor in South Wales and picket line coordinator, told Socialist Worker.

“People have been bringing tea and biscuits, and shopping vouchers. Mostly they say that we are right to strike and deserve better pay.

“The support has given everyone a lift and made doctors more confident to speak out about pay and what’s happening to the NHS.

“That’s important because normally we don’t have enough time to talk to our patients properly.”

Joshua said the union has grown in numbers on the picket line too.

“The Senedd protest was particularly important because it rallied so many strikers together.”

But, he adds, Labour politicians boycotted the event, leaving a Plaid Cymru representative as the only assembly member to address them.

“I think that’s disrespectful. It’s a sign that the government is not taking the strike, or the NHS crisis seriously enough.

“And, that attitude can only prolong the strike. A couple of colleagues mentioned to me that it made them more sceptical about a future Labour government in Westminster.

“Welsh health secretary Eluned Morgan has been telling the media that she’s ‘willing to negotiate’. Well, if that’s true where is she?

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