Rishi Sunak today admitted the situation plaguing NHS hospitals is not ‘where we want to be’ as he insisted the plan is working.

Calling for more time to turn the ailing health service’s fortunes around, the Prime Minister said: ‘I know things will get better.’

It comes as junior doctors demanding pay hikes worth up to £20,000 brought the struggling health service to yet another standstill.

It marks the 10th time since March that trainee doctors have walked out as the bitter pay row with Government shows no sign of slowing.

The ‘militant’ leader of the British Medical Association’s (BMA) junior doctors group claimed the Government is ‘quite happy having the strikes happen’.

Grilled about the never-ending wave of action which has forced hospitals to cancel more than a million appointments and operations, Mr Sunak told BBC Radio York: 'I come from an NHS family, of course I don't want to run it down' Pictured on a visit to Haxby in Yorkshire

Grilled about the never-ending wave of action which has forced hospitals to cancel more than a million appointments and operations, Mr Sunak told BBC Radio York: ‘I come from an NHS family, of course I don’t want to run it down’ Pictured on a visit to Haxby in Yorkshire

Today's ongoing strike marks the 10th time since March that trainee doctors have walked out as the bitter pay row with Government shows no sign of slowing. Pictured, medics on the picket line outside St Thomas' Hospital in Westminster

Today’s ongoing strike marks the 10th time since March that trainee doctors have walked out as the bitter pay row with Government shows no sign of slowing. Pictured, medics on the picket line outside St Thomas’ Hospital in Westminster

Grilled about the never-ending wave of action which has forced hospitals to cancel more than a million appointments and operations, Mr Sunak told BBC Radio York: ‘Are we where we want to be? Not yet. 

‘Are we making progress? Yes, the plan is working. If we stick with it, I know things will get better.’

Mr Sunak added: ‘I come from an NHS family, of course I don’t want to run it down.

‘We’re putting a record amount of investment in, more funding, so that’s never been higher — more doctors, more nurses, and we’re making improvements.

‘Now, look, that’s not going to happen overnight. 

‘But if you look at the performance of ambulances and emergency departments this winter, it’s better than it was last winter. So that is progress.

‘When it comes to the waiting lists, in the last few months actually we’ve seen the waiting lists start to fall. 

‘And that’s because we haven’t had as much industrial action.

‘Obviously there is once again industrial action but at the end of last year we had no industrial action in October or November and the waiting list fell by about 150,000.’

By the end of the latest strikes at 11.59pm on Wednesday, hospital doctors will have taken 44 days or 1,056 hours of industrial action, equating to around 12 per cent of the year. 

It has seen more than 1.3 million appointments cancelled, with 7.6million waiting to start treatment and millions more facing long waits for continued care. 

Emergency services remain open on strike days and officials have told Brits needing urgent medical care to still seek help as normal. 

Speaking from a picket line at St Thomas’ Hospital in Westminster, Dr Rob Laurenson, co-chair of the BMA junior doctors committee said: ‘I don’t think the Government wants to end this dispute.

‘I think they are quite happy having the strikes happen. And I think they are failing everyone.

‘I find it difficult to understand if this is incompetence or malice. Either way, it fails everyone.’

Dr Laurenson added: ‘This round of action is because back in December Victoria Atkins (Health Secretary) said she would be back around the table in 20 minutes with another offer to make. But those 20 minutes turned into 20 days.

‘So then she sent a junior minister who said they had no further offer up his sleeve, so the Government lied.’

Junior doctors are calling for pay restoration, saying that they have faced real-terms pay cuts of more than a quarter since 2008. This equates to around 35 per cent.

‘We have gone above and beyond every single time with regards to our good will, to make sure we can run a service, but the Government returns that with pay cuts,’ Dr Laurenson said.

Junior doctors in their first year now have a basic pay of £32,300, while those with three years' experience make £43,900. The most senior earn £63,100

Junior doctors in their first year now have a basic pay of £32,300, while those with three years’ experience make £43,900. The most senior earn £63,100

The latest industrial action began at 7am on Saturday, with junior doctors returning to work at 11.59pm on Wednesday. Junior doctors outside Manchester Royal Infirmary this morning

The latest industrial action began at 7am on Saturday, with junior doctors returning to work at 11.59pm on Wednesday. Junior doctors outside Manchester Royal Infirmary this morning

Ministers have given junior doctors an 8.8 per cent pay rise, on average, for the 2023/24 financial year. However, the uplift was higher for first year medics, who were given a 10.3 per cent boost. Pictured a black cocker spaniel in a BMA hat on the picket line outside St Thomas' Hospital

Ministers have given junior doctors an 8.8 per cent pay rise, on average, for the 2023/24 financial year. However, the uplift was higher for first year medics, who were given a 10.3 per cent boost. Pictured a black cocker spaniel in a BMA hat on the picket line outside St Thomas’ Hospital

‘We are seeing the absolute collapse of goodwill. It has been long said that the NHS runs on goodwill, and now because we’ve seen that collapse I think we’re seeing the outcome of the NHS collapse as well.’

The latest industrial action began at 7am on Saturday, with junior doctors returning to work at 11.59pm on Wednesday.

Ministers have given junior doctors an 8.8 per cent pay rise, on average, for the 2023/24 financial year.

However, the uplift was higher for first year medics, who were given a 10.3 per cent boost.

In December, Health Secretary Victoria Atkins offered them an additional 3 per cent rise in a bid to avert further strike action.

But the union said the improved sum was still ‘completely insufficient’.

Junior doctors in their first year now have a basic pay of £32,300, while those with three years’ experience make £43,900. The most senior earn £63,100.

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