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At least one hospital has asked junior doctors to return back to work following pressures on patient care, caused by the medics walking out.

For the first time in 40 years medics have walked out of NHS hospitals across England in a dispute over a new contract.

It has been reported by The Daily Telegraph that around 4,000 operations and procedures have been cancelled due to the strike action, with thousands of routine appointments being hit.

NHS England have quoted the following figures to show the impact the strike is having on patient care:

  • 1,425 inpatient operations and procedures cancelled
  • 2,535 outpatient operations and procedures cancelled
  • 4,000 cancellations in total – 3,400 of these are on Tuesday 12th
  • 654 cancellations in London alone

The strike action started at 8am, when junior doctors started providing emergency care only. Nurses and consultants are attempting the cover as much of the work as possible.

At 9:45am Sandwell Hospital in West Bromwich declared a “level 4 incident” and said it needed its doctors to return to work. A number of medics returned, despite the BMA advising them against returning to work during strike action.

Dr Roger Stedman, medical director at Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust, said in a statement: “Over the last two days we have had very high numbers of patients come to hospital, and fewer than usual discharged.
Because of that we decided to require trainee doctors allocated to ward work to attend Sandwell during today’s strike.”

Speaking to The Daily Telegraph on the picket line Dr Anne De Bray, who has been working at Sandwell for a year, said: “If there was a dangerous incident they should liaise with the BMA through NHS England to call off the strike. If there had been a major incident like a terrorist attack or road accident we would drop our placards and head in. We have all brought our stethoscopes and a change of clothes. But the BMA have said there’s no danger to patients”.

Sam Meadows, a junior doctor based at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield, said: “There’s been great support from our colleagues, the consultants, and the public.”

Dr Meadows said: “We say we’re one profession and we stand together. That’s exactly what it is. Everyone is in this together to oppose what we feel is a very unsafe, very unfair contract.”

However this sentiment is not felt by everyone. Yesterday the chief medical officer for England, Dame Sally Davies, said that the action would “lead to patients suffering”.

Dame Sally told the BBC: “Junior doctors are the backbone of the NHS, working long and anti-social hours… It is vital that, as senior medical leaders, we ask ourselves whether we are doing everything we can to ensure our junior colleagues feel valued. As a doctor, I can understand the anger and frustration felt by many junior doctors at this time.”

At Pryers Solicitors, we do not believe that the junior doctors should be striking as it leaves patients in an unnecessary, vulnerable position.

With the weather looking like it is going to take a wintery turn, and NHS medical negligence claims on the rise, this is not the time for doctors to be walking out, as it is putting patients at further risk of injury through negligence.

Over the last week The Daily Telegraph reported that almost 30 hospitals have issued “black alerts” and warning to patients to stay away from A&E departments under mounting winter pressures.

What is the dispute about?
Proposed changes to hospital doctors’ contracts, in a move to increase services. The junior doctors say the dispute is as much about patient safety as salary changes.

When are the doctors striking?
From 8am for 24 hours on Tuesday 12th January. For 48hours from 8am on Tuesday 26th January. A full walkout is planned from 8am to 5pm on Wednesday 10th February.

How many are due to take part?
Up to 45,000 medics were expected to join more than 150 picket lines at Hospitals across England.

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