Almost 100 operations and over 500 appointments at Ipswich Hospital and West Suffolk Hospital cancelled due to historic junior doctors' strike
PUBLISHED: 11:25 26 April 2016 | UPDATED: 11:26 26 April 2016
Patients have had operations and appointments cancelled ahead of this week's planned strikes by junior doctors.
Hospitals across England are finalising plans for dealing with the first all-out strike by junior doctors in the history of the NHS as last-ditch efforts failed to break the stalemate over a new contract.
At Ipswich Hospital, 47 operations have been cancelled and a further 330 outpatient appointments have been rescheduled durig the strikes tomorrow and Wednesday.
West Suffolk Hospital (WSH) in Bury St Edmunds has confirmed that 42 operations and 272 outpatient appointments have been rescheduled.
At Colchester General Hospital, 79 operations have been cancelled and 599 outpatient appointments rearranged.
The British Medical Association (BMA) has defended the two-day walkout, which begins at 8am on Tuesday, repeating its stance that it will call off the strike if Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt agrees to lift his threat to impose the contract.
Mr Hunt has rejected this offer but wrote to the head of the BMA, Dr Mark Porter, over the weekend calling for an urgent meeting on Monday to discuss some parts of the deal.
He said lives were being put at risk and the “extreme action” was “deeply worrying for patients”.
A key issue in the dispute is around weekend pay. The new, imposed contract cuts the pay offered to doctors at weekends but increases basic pay.
The impasse means it looks increasingly likely the strike will go ahead, with thousands of junior doctors withdrawing full labour, including emergency care, from 8am to 5pm on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The news comes after we revealed earlier how some consultants at Ipswich Hospital are being retrained in CPR ahead of the strike.
Meanwhile, Suffolk MP and former health minister Dr Dan Poulter has joined politicians from other parties to call for a delay in the introducing controversial new doctors’ contracts.
An Ipswich Hospital spokesman said: “We have had to rearrange 47 operations and 330 outpatient appointments across the two days.
“Everyone in the hospital including consultants will be working differently to support patient care. We are determined that we will be able to provide safe, high quality care for patients.”
Jon Green, chief operating officer at WSH, said: “We have been working closely with our staff to put contingency plans in place so that we can minimise disruption for our patients while continuing to provide a safe, effective service.
“This includes using consultants to staff our emergency department so that we can continue to provide emergency or urgent care for everyone who needs it.
“We have postponed a total of 42 operations and 272 outpatient appointments over the two days. We have contacted every patient who has been affected and will rebook their surgery or appointment as quickly as possible.
“We expect to be exceptionally busy during the period of industrial action, so would remind patients to use services wisely and only attend the emergency department if absolutely necessary. NHS 111 can give you advice if you are not sure which service you need, while your pharmacist can help with a wide range of different conditions.”
Nationally, according to figures from NHS England, 112,856 outpatient appointments and 12,711 planned operations have been cancelled and will need to be rearranged.
Across the country, consultants who would normally be staffing clinics and planned operations will be moving to other areas of hospitals to provide cover.
Those who would not normally be on a shift are also coming in to help bolster numbers.
A Colchester Hospital spokesman said: “The public is reminded that our A&E, in common with all A&E departments, is always for serious or life-threatening emergencies only.
“We have taken every possible step to ensure that patient safety will be maintained.”
An Ipswich Hospital spokesman said: “Everyone at the hospital, including consultants, will be working differently to support patient care. We are determined to provide safe, high-quality care for patients.”