Junior doctors have begun a three-day strike action across England, with tens of thousands of NHS staff joining.

The walkout will see operations and thousands of patient appointments cancelled during the 72-hour walkout, which began on Monday, March 13.

More than 100,000 appointments have been postponed over the course of the winter due to nurse strikes as a row over pay continues.

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The NHS is preparing for three days of mass disruption as doctors join picket lines outside their hospitals.

The strikes come as The British Medical Association (BMA) is demanding a significant pay hike for doctors.

Its new campaign points out junior doctors get paid less than staff working in Pret A Manger.

The BMA claims junior doctors’ salary has dropped by 26 percent since 2008/09, and balancing it would need a 35.3 percent salary increase.

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Health Secretary Steve Barclay invited the BMA to talks on Friday, March 10, but the union rebuffed, citing “unacceptable” preconditions.

The preconditions are said to have included considering a non-consolidated lump sum payment for last year, but the BMA is demanding “full pay restoration.”

Junior doctors represent around 45 percent of the NHS’s medical staff, and consultants and other medics have been asked to give strike cover in areas such as A&E.

Professor Stephen Powis, medical director of NHS England, said the health service would face “extensive disruption” over the next three days.

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Earlier, the NHS chief said the strikes are “likely to be the most severe of all those (strike) days this winter, perhaps even the most severe disruption that we’ve seen of any strike in the NHS during its history.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said the comparison is “misleading” since it does not account for the extra earning potential and pay progression available to young doctors.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he does not think it right that “there is so much disruption” caused by strike action as he supported his administration’s anti-strikes rules.

Source: Evening Standard

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