Operations and appointments cancelled across the region as junior doctors stage first full walkout over contract row
- Credit: Archant
Junior doctors today stage the first all-out strike in the history of the NHS as the row over new contracts proposed by the government intensifies.
The strike, which for the first time includes emergency care, has caused the cancellations of around 300 operations and nearly 3,000 appointments across the region's hospitals.
It comes the day after more than a dozen presidents of royal colleges and faculties urged prime minister David Cameron to end the dispute.
But while both the government and British Medical Association (BMA) have said they can return to the negotiating table, neither will do so under current conditions.
The BMA said it would negotiate if health secretary Jeremy Hunt removed the imposition of the new contract, but this has been rejected by the government.
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Writing in this newspaper, health minister Ben Gummer said the government has 'exhaustively' pursued all options in its attempts to reach an agreement with the BMA.
But James Rowson, a junior doctor at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, said the evidence used by the government to back up its plan for the contract, and a seven-day NHS, was 'a false conclusion'.
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Consultants and senior staff will be drafted in to cover for the doctors, but hospital bosses are asking the public to consider whether or not they genuinely need to go to A&E during the strike.
Richard Parker, chief operating officer at the N&N, said: 'Patients in need of emergency care will continue to receive the treatment they need, and will be prioritised.
'If you do not hear from us, please assume your appointment remains unchanged and attend as planned.'
Jim Crawfurd, an A&E consultant at the James Paget University Hospital, said: 'The BMA gave us enough notice of this strike action to enable us to organise our rotas effectively so that we have the right levels of staffing in A&E at our hospital.
'During the two days of the strike action we will have the same number of doctors in A&E as on a normal day.
'Because of this, a patient coming into A&E on the days of the strike should not experience anything different.'
The strike will last from 8am-5pm today and tomorrow. Nearly 13,000 operations and more than 100,000 appointments have been cancelled across England as a result of the strike.
Are you affected by the junior doctors' strike? Contact our health correspondent by emailing email@example.com