A pregnant woman from Britain was told by doctors that she should not give birth after her due date due to her health condition. After much deliberation, she decided to undergo a caesarean section. However, her plans were thwarted by a large-scale strike that started on Monday morning.
“I feel like I’ve lost all control over my birth,” the woman, who wished to remain anonymous, told Sky News.
The doctors advised her to undergo artificial induction of labor at the due date. However, after discussing the matter with her midwife, she decided she would rather have a C-section at 39 weeks.
“When I made my decision, I felt a huge relief,” the woman described. But she soon learned that they would not perform a caesarean section at that time. At the hospital, they explained to her that most of the doctors would be on strike and only emergency C-sections would be on the agenda.
The doctors offered the woman an alternative date in which she can undergo the procedure. However, this date is about a week after the planned date of birth. The woman therefore fears that if she does not go into labor on time, she will have to nod to artificial induction of labor instead of the chosen intervention.
More about UK healthcare:
The British Health System (NHS) is a symbol of the United Kingdom and its commitment to providing quality healthcare to all without exception. But now it is experiencing one of the most difficult periods in its 75-year history.
Birthrights, which campaigns for safe birth care, warns that “postponing or canceling planned caesarean sections without adequate communication and due consideration of individual circumstances” is very problematic and can have serious consequences.
In some cases, as the organization claims, it even violates Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. According to her, the text implies that a woman has the right to decide how she wants to give birth, even though the convention does not explicitly say so.
The woman whose case was described by the Sky News server is far from the only patient whose treatment has been complicated by a large-scale strike by doctors, which has involved around four-fifths of doctors working in hospitals in England.
According to officials from NHS England, an arm of Britain’s National Health Service, from Monday to Thursday the operation of routine departments in England will almost stop. Medical facilities will operate in “Christmas” mode – only emergency departments will remain at full capacity, the representation of medical personnel elsewhere will be minimal.
The station LBC points out that this is the longest joint strike of doctors working in junior positions and so-called “consultants” (senior hospital doctors or surgeons with completed all professional training, note ed.), which NHS England has experienced over its long existence.
Health workers’ strikes
The strike, which started on Monday 2 October, is the eighth strike that health workers in England have taken since March to secure better pay and working conditions.
At the same time, this is the second joint strike by doctors in junior and senior positions in less than a month, the Al Jazeera server pointed out. While the first lasted “only” 24 hours, the second should last a total of 72 hours.
The British government last year offered junior doctors a 2% pay rise. The BMA trade union complained that the increase was out of line with inflation and described it as “insulting”. Their dissatisfaction culminated in a strike in March of this year. During it, junior doctors demanded a 35% increase, “consultants” asked for 12%.
Now the government has offered “consultants” 6% and junior doctors 8.8%. The doctors refused this offer.
Radiologists, physiotherapists, employees of emergency services and nurses also organized their own strikes in the past months. The BMA trade union has previously warned that specialist doctors will join the strike unless pay and working conditions improve.
NHS England initially estimated that around a million outpatient tests and operations had to be postponed due to repeated strikes by doctors. But the leadership of the NHS Confederation warns that the total number could be up to twice as high.
According to The Guardian, the ongoing strike is expected to disrupt services provided by the health system even more than previous ones. For one day, namely Tuesday, radiologists will also join, for which especially oncology patients who will not be able to undergo the necessary examinations will pay extra.
During another medical strike in September, the British media reported stories of patients who were crushed by the repeated postponement of examination dates.
For example, the Daily Mail reported on Essex construction worker Lauren Golding, who was supposed to go for an examination due to severe abdominal pain. Her appointment was canceled due to the strike. When she was told that she could wait up to six weeks for a new one, she cried in despair.
The government is to blame, say the unions
The latest strike is believed to increase pressure on the National Health Service, which has recently been experiencing one of the toughest periods in its history.
Patients have long complained that the NHS is not delivering on its commitment to provide quality health care to all Britons and they often have to wait more than two months to start treatment (we wrote here).
According to The Independent, a record 7.7 million people are currently waiting for hospital treatment in England alone. It is expected that their number will increase due to the strikes.
What is the NHS?
- The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) provides free healthcare to all UK citizens, temporary residents and those just visiting the country. It is funded by the taxes of British citizens.
- The de facto system was created during World War II because German air raids injured many people. The British government therefore set up a new centralized national emergency medical service. The NHS was formally established only in 1946, when the government and parliament approved it.
- There are four of these systems in the UK – one for each UK country. Each of them works independently of the others and is politically accountable to the relevant authority.
The British Medical Association (BMA), the trade union for British doctors, says the survey shows that most people blame the UK government for long waiting times, not the health workers themselves, who are often made scapegoats by politicians. 1765 people took part in the survey.
“Doctors are fed up with being told that we are the problem with the NHS,” said Phil Banfield, chairman of the BMA. “It is not fair that the government continues to place the blame for its failure to properly resource Britain’s health service on doctors and health workers,” he adds.
Health chiefs previously warned the strike would deal a “knockout to the Prime Minister’s promises”. These days, Rishi Sunak is speaking for the first time as the head of the cabinet and the ruling Conservative Party at the party’s annual conference in Manchester.