Junior doctors strike: Hundreds of appointments cancelled in East Anglia

Junior doctors strike in Norwich city centre on Thursday March 10 2016. Photo: Steve Adams

Junior doctors strike in Norwich city centre on Thursday March 10 2016. Photo: Steve Adams - Credit: Archant

Junior doctors remain on strike today as part of a two-day protest which has left more than 1,000 patients in this region having their operations and appointments rescheduled.

Supporters of the junior doctors strike in Norwich on Thursday. Photo: Steve Adams

Supporters of the junior doctors strike in Norwich on Thursday. Photo: Steve Adams - Credit: Archant

Patients are encouraged to visit hospital as usual unless they have been contacted in advance.

The strike, which ends at 8am tomorrow, does not affect emergency care, though patients may experience longer waits today due to knock-on effects.

Every acute hospital in the region is affected by the strike:

- 873 appointments and 36 operations have been cancelled at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

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- 173 appointments and 18 operations have been cancelled at James Paget University Hospital, in Gorleston.

- 118 appointments and six operations have been cancelled at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in King's Lynn.

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- 84 appointments and 24 operations have been cancelled at West Suffolk Hospital, in Bury St Edmunds.

- 30 procedures, such as angiograms and complex x-rays, have been cancelled at Ipswich Hospital.

Dorothy Hosein, chief executive of Queen Elizabeth Hospital, said: 'We are doing our best to ensure the hospital operates as close to normal as possible.

'As with previous strikes, we will contact any of our patients that are affected. If you have not heard from us, but have an appointment on a strike day, please attend as normal.'

The strike is held less than a month after health secretary Jeremy Hunt decided to impose a new contract on junior doctors, which - as things stand - will come into affect on August 1.

The contract, which Mr Hunt says is crucial to providing the Conservative's manifesto pledge of a '7-day NHS', has been labelled as unsafe and unfair by the British Medical Association (BMA).

Yesterday Katherine Murphy, of the Patients' Association, said she believed the survival of the NHS itself was in danger.

'Whatever the rights and wrongs of the arguments put forward by either side, the failure to resolve the differences by agreement is bad for doctors, bad for the taxpayer, but above all bad for patients and the NHS.

'Indeed we believe that the survival of the NHS itself is in danger.

Repeated industrial action can only increase the risks to patients.

'Both will continue the destruction of trust between staff and their employers, and erode the public's confidence in the service.'

Dr Johann Malawana, the BMA's junior doctor chairman, said: 'We deeply regret disruption to patients.

'Ministers have made it clear they intend to impose a contract that could undermine the delivery of patient care in the long term.

'The current proposals will affect those already working the most unsocial hours, hitting key parts of the NHS with the greatest problems in attracting and keeping doctors - such as our accident and emergency departments.

A Department of Health spokesman said: 'The new contract, 90pc of which was agreed with the BMA, and endorsed by senior NHS leaders, is a very good deal for doctors and the NHS.

'We urge junior doctors to look at the detail of the contract and the clear benefits it brings.'

More than 5,000 operations and procedures have been cancelled across the country, according to NHS England.

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