Health bosses suggest new wave of strikes could lead to 250,000 cancelled appointments

April 12th, 2023

Health bosses have suggested that a new wave of strikes could lead to the cancellation of up to 250,000 appointments.
The NHS Confederation has warned that the strikes, which involve junior doctors and begin on Tuesday 11th April, will cause widespread disruption to patients. The strikes will last for four days.

Dr Layla McCay, director of policy at the NHS Confederation, said that patients are more likely to experience delays due to the timing of the strike, which begins the day after the long Easter bank holiday weekend. It is estimated that around a quarter of a million appointments could be cancelled across England.

Hospital bosses are more anxious about the strikes than any other previous industrial action, with some warning that it wasn’t possible to guarantee patient safety during the four-day walkout.

Junior doctors are striking after voting unanimously in favour of taking action over an ongoing pay dispute. The British Medical Association (BMA) is pushing for a 35% pay increase following 15 years of pay rises, which the association claims have been below inflation.

The previous strike by junior doctors led to the cancellation of 175,000 appointments. During the last strike, consultants were pulled in to cover shifts to try to minimise disruption and protect patient safety, but it is estimated that around 25% of them are currently on Easter holidays. The BMA has suggested that junior doctors could be taken off the picket line if individual hospitals raise the alarm and there is a risk of loss of life.

Dr McCay explained that the strikes following on from the Easter weekend would lead to up to 10 days of disruptions, impacting patients and other staff and potentially putting patient safety at risk.

The BMA has urged the health secretary, Steve Barclay, to negotiate and put a reasonable offer on the table. The association claims that junior doctors have suffered substantial real term pay cuts, which are making it increasingly difficult for them to cover living costs and essentials, let alone pay off crippling student debt.

The Department for Health and Social Care has stated that negotiations will not take place until the BMA calls off the strikes.

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