STRIKING junior doctors at a hospital picket line say they want to 'save the NHS they love' - but the Government say industrial action risks lives.

Junior doctors manned the picket line on a wet, blustery morning outside Worcestershire Royal Hospital in Worcester today (Wednesday) - the second of four days of industrial action by the British Medical Association (BMA).

Throughout the morning car horns and sirens sounded in support of the doctors who say the future of the NHS is at stake and all were adamant they would 'much rather be at work'.

However, the health secretary called the strikes 'extremely disappointing' and has issued a statement saying lives are being put at risk.

Worcester News: DUTY: Junior doctors say they have a responsibility to protect the NHS and patients as well as campaigning for better pay and conditions DUTY: Junior doctors say they have a responsibility to protect the NHS and patients as well as campaigning for better pay and conditions (Image: James Connell/Newsquest)

Emily Moseley was one of a group of junior doctors at the hospital entrance in Charles Hastings Way near the roundabout on Newtown Road with placards and banners.

READ MORE: Service update on junior doctor strikes 

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Other picket lines were also in place at the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch and Hereford County Hospital.

The 28-year-old junior doctor said the strike started at 6.59am on Tuesday and would run until 6.59am on Saturday. 

Doctor Moseley said: "We have lots of support, lots of honks - and we're rating the honks we get."

Worcester News: BUSY: Worcestershire Royal Hospital on Wednesday, April 12 - the second day of BMA strikes by junior doctorsBUSY: Worcestershire Royal Hospital on Wednesday, April 12 - the second day of BMA strikes by junior doctors (Image: Newsquest)

Bus drivers, nurses leaving or arriving for their shifts, paramedics and patients were among those to sound their horns and, in some cases, sirens in solidarity.

There have been between 15 and 20 people on the picket lines over the last two days. 

Doctor Moseley said since 2008 junior doctors had received a 26 per cent pay cut in real terms and now they were asking for a 35 per cent pay restoration, arguing that the Government had not matched public support shown during the Covid-19 pandemic.

She argued that people were now leaving the profession, resulting in gaps in the rota and in one junior doctor having to do the 'work of two to three doctors at a time'.

"We can understand why the public would be concerned about appointments being cancelled and understand it's a worry. We are striking for the future of doctors and the NHS. We want there to be doctors left in the NHS to provide the care patients deserve. We are fighting for the future of the public's NHS," she said.

She said there was sympathy over cancellations but that they were responding to 'chronic underfunding' and issues such as lack of safe PPE during the pandemic.

Louise Crawford, another junior doctor at Worcester, said: "We would all rather be inside working and looking after patients, doing our jobs. We love our jobs. We love our patients. It's very sad that we have had to get to this. But if we don't do anything, nothing will change. It's not just about pay.

"This is about conditions and safety and patients."

Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said: “It is extremely disappointing the BMA has called strike action for four consecutive days. Not only will the walkouts risk patient safety, but they have also been timed to maximise disruption after the Easter break.

“I hoped to begin formal pay negotiations with the BMA last month but its demand for a 35 per cent pay rise is unreasonable – it would result in some junior doctors receiving a pay rise of over £20,000. If the BMA is willing to move significantly from this position and cancel strikes we can resume confidential talks and find a way forward, as we have done with other unions.

“People should attend appointments unless told otherwise by the NHS, continue to call 999 in a life-threatening emergency and use NHS 111 online services for non-urgent health needs.”

Matthew Hopkins, Chief Executive of Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust said:  “Our planning ahead of the strike has meant we’ve been able to reduce the risk of harm to patients, and I’d like to thank all of our colleagues who have stepped up to fill gaps or are working hard to keep our core services running, to keep our patients safe and to deliver the best care possible at such a challenging time.

“Unfortunately, we have had to rearrange some patients’ appointments or operations and we’d like to apologise to them for that. We will reschedule those patients as quickly as we can.

“Local people can play their part to help reduce the pressure on our services by only using 999 or A&E for genuine life-threatening emergencies, and by using NHS 111 (online or by phone) for other care needs or if you’re unsure about whether you should go to hospital.”