Doctors strike to disrupt thousands of patients care this week

Downing Street has warned a four day strike by NHS doctors in England poses a “huge challenge” and will disrupt thousands of patients’ care.

Consultants will walk out for 48 hours from Tuesday, with junior colleagues joining them on Wednesday.

Junior doctors, who have staged 19 days of strike action since March, will then continue their strike on Thursday and Friday followed by October 2, 3 and 4.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “These co-ordinated strikes will pose a huge challenge for the NHS and for patients, who will see their care significantly disrupted.”

The NHS is expected to see a “Christmas Day” level of staffing when both consultants and junior doctors are off, with emergency care taking priority.

The health service is in “uncharted territory”, with thousands of patient appointments expected to be cancelled, health chief Saffron Cordery warned.

NHS Providers deputy chief executive said this week’s strike action in England by consultants and junior doctors “can’t become the status quo”.

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Ms Cordery said: “This ‘double whammy’ of the first ever joint strikes by senior and junior doctors is the toughest test yet for trust leaders, ramping up pressure on already stretched services.

“Even when consultants go back to work on Thursday, junior doctors will be on strike until Friday with more strikes by both groups and radiographers planned for early October.

“We’re in uncharted territory. It’s all hands on deck in trusts across the country.

“Ten months of industrial action have seen almost one million routine appointments and procedures delayed.

“Strikes can’t become the status quo. Only the Government sitting down with the unions can end this disruption.”

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The Government has implemented a six per cent pay rise for consultants and six per cent plus a lump sum of £1,250 for junior doctors and has said there will be no further offers.

Meanwhile the British Medical Association has called for “full pay restoration” back to 2008/09 levels, saying pay has been eroded over several years.

Health Secretary Steve Barclay was open to discussions about the “non-pay elements” of the BMA’s concerns but there were no plans to “revisit” the pay deal, the No10 spokesman said.

NHS national medical director professor Sir Stephen Powis said: “This week’s first ever joint action means almost all planned care will come to a stop, and hundreds of thousands of appointments will be postponed, which is incredibly difficult for patients and their families, and poses an enormous challenge for colleagues across the NHS.

“Patients who have an appointment and who haven’t been contacted should attend as normal.”

The NHS waiting list in England reached a new record high with 7.7 million people – around one in seven – waiting for treatment.

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