Junior doctors enjoy ‘fantastic support’ while striking in Suffolk

The junior doctors strike at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury.

The junior doctors strike at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury. - Credit: Archant

Junior doctors in Suffolk say they enjoyed “fantastic support” from the public as they came out on strike for the second time this year.

At West Suffolk Hospital, in Bury St Edmunds, junior doctors were picketing by the main entrance from 8.30am in an ongoing national dispute with the government over plans to impose a new contract.

Critics have claimed the plans – which would include Saturday being treated as a normal working day – are unfair and could lead to “unsafe” working conditions.

Dr Emma Gordon, 40, who works at the Bury hospital, said as well as the public’s support the hospital management had been “wonderful again”.

“I think we’re having even more public support than we did in January,” she said, adding full care was still being provided to patients.

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“All emergency care is covered, all of the on-call staff are in,” she said. “More consultants are in than would be normally. They’re backing us just as much as the public are. The patients are well looked after today.”

Helen Beck, deputy chief operating officer at West Suffolk Hospital, said eight routine operations, two day-case surgeries and 26 outpatient appointments had been postponed because of the strikes.

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“We are offering all of the patients affected an alternative date as soon as possible,” she said.

She also confirmed the emergency department had been open as usual and emergency care “has not been affected”.

“We have an excellent relationship with our junior doctors and worked closely with them and our consultants in the run up to the planned industrial action to put contingency plans in place. Our focus at all times has been on continuing to provide safe, effective care with minimal disruption for patients,” she said.

The British Medical Association has still not managed to reach agreement on the new junior doctors’ contract, meaning industrial action took place from 8am yesterday to 8am today and is likely to take place again later this year.

“I think there are some major sticking points still,” said Dr Gordon. “The re-designation of Saturday as a normal working day is quite a big thing for working families and people who need to organise child care.”

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