Comedian Adam Kay has turned out to support hundreds of junior doctors who gathered at Parliament Square demanding higher wages.
The former NHS doctor, whose bestselling book This Is Going To Hurt was adapted into a BBC comedy-drama, made a surprise appearance on Friday.
He told cheering protesters not to “compromise one millimetre” in their struggle with the Government over an above-inflation pay package.
The rally came after medics warned they would be prepared to strike “every month” until next spring.
Junior doctors across England are currently striking for 72 hours as temperatures reach the high-20s.
NHS bosses have warned that the hot weather contributed to one of the “busiest days ever” in A&E departments this week.
The demonstrators filed past the statues of Winston Churchill and David Lloyd George carrying placards reading, “National Health Shambles”, “Strike to Save the NHS”, and “Claps Don’t Pay Bills” before gathering on Parliament Green in view of Big Ben.
One demonstrator held a cardboard sign reading: “I can’t afford an actual sign – please restore my pay.”
Kay, 43, took to the stage amid a chorus of cheers and applause, telling the crowd: “What I wrote about in 2016 was in response to a government claiming the doctors are being lazy and a lot’s changed in those years but that hasn’t.
“What you obviously know – and what the Government doesn’t seem to work out – is that I was earning 25% more than people are earning now.
“I was not 25% better than anyone here – I was markedly worse.
“The most frequent comment from your detractors goes like this: ‘Just leave then’.
“Everyone is leaving – and that’s exactly what the problem is.
“Everyone will leave until there’s no doctors left which means there’s no NHS.
“I can’t remember the last time I looked on Facebook and didn’t see one of my former colleagues looking for another life in another industry or another country.
“You don’t need to compromise one millimetre. All you are asking for is the money you deserve.”
Dr Vivek Trivedi, co-chair of the BMA Junior Doctors Committee, also made a speech, insisting that junior doctors would “continue to strike hard” until the Government came to the table.
He continued: “Strike is the only meaningful tool we have to affect change.
“Without your action we’d be disregarded and ignored.”
In an interview with the PA news agency, Dr Trivedi welcomed Kay’s contribution, saying: “People have read his book and screenplay which has resonated with members of the public.
“They depict the gruelling reality of working in the NHS when you have understaffed rotas, seeing death and despair on a daily basis, and burnout rife.”
He added: “We don’t need to strike. All we want is an honest government having an honest conversation with us – but if we need to, we will.”