Plans drawn up by hospitals to combat impact of doctors’ strike
- Credit: PA
Hospital bosses are drawing up plans to keep patient-disruption to a minimum after junior doctors voted overwhelmingly to strike for three days over a contract row with the government.
It follows the British Medical Association's (BMA) announcement yesterday that junior doctors will walk out on December 1, 8, and 16.
The BMA balloted just over 37,700 members – more than two-thirds of the workforce – and 76pc took part in the ballot.
A total of 98pc voted in favour of striking.
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt called the strike 'regrettable' and said he hoped the junior doctors would reconsider after considering the impact on patients.
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The government has offered doctors an 11pc pay rise but the junior doctors say the proposals will lose them money and worsen patients' safety due to proposed new rules on working extra hours.
James Rowson, a junior doctor at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (N&N), said: 'Patients are at the forefront of our minds and we really hoped it wouldn't come to this.
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'We feel the new contract will severely compromise patients' safety so we have to take action now.'
A spokesman for the N&N said: 'Those in less urgent need of care may experience longer waiting times than normal and some elective operations as well as out-patient appointments may need to be postponed or rearranged.'
Earlier this week Chloe Smith, the MP for Norwich North, was told in parliament by health minister Ben Gummer that the N&N would receive 'consistent' support for the challenges posed by a strike, but the spokesman said no indication had been given yet of any available support.
A spokesman for James Paget University Hospital said: 'Senior managers have been reviewing business continuity plans in detail as a result.
'We anticipate that there will be disruption to some non-urgent services.'
Dorothy Hosein, chief executive of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital King's Lynn, said: 'We will not be cancelling any of our elective procedure lists unless it is decided that not doing so would pose a risk to patient safety.'
Mr Hunt has held a planning meeting with health experts regarding the impact of strike action.
He said he has not ruled out conciliation.