Strikes suspended – but hundreds of appointments are still cancelled

Doctors and nurses at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Photo: James Bass.

Doctors and nurses at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Photo: James Bass. - Credit: Evening News © 2009

The 24-hour strike by junior doctors has been called off – but disruption has already been caused as hundreds of appointments have been cancelled.

All three strikes planned by the British Medical Association (BMA) have been called off in order to return to negotiations.

In return, the government has agreed to suspend its threat to impose a new contract on doctors.

If the fresh round of talks breaks down, the BMA still has the right to hold its strikes before a deadline of January 13.

James Rowson, a junior doctor at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, said he was relieved at the last-minute breakthrough.

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He said: 'As a result of such a well-coordinated and supported campaign by junior and senior doctors, our colleagues, and the public, the government has woken up and seen the light. What the Department of Health was intending on forcing upon us was not just ridiculous but dangerous, unfair and unjustified, and it was against a huge group of well-respected, over-worked professionals whose sole aim is to allow the patients we treasure and treat to be healthy and have a meaningful quality of life.'

But hundreds of appointments, several clinics, and a number of operations have been cancelled across Norfolk's hospitals today, with bosses reassuring the public that emergency care will not be affected.

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As a result of the strike the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital has cancelled 396 outpatient appointments and 25 at Cromer Hospital. The N&N's trust has also postponed 11 non-emergency operations, four out-patient clinics have been cancelled at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn, and non-emergency surgery and clinics have been rescheduled at James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston.

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