York Hospital Trust’s Strike Leads to Postponement of 670 Appointments
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York Hospital Trust’s Strike Leads to Postponement of 670 Appointments

The six-day walkout from January 3 to January 9, prompted by a dispute over pay between the BMA (British Medical Association) and the government, was the longest strike in NHS history.

The BMA wants a 35 per cent pay rise for junior doctors, which it says will restore their pay levels to what they were in 2009. The government says this is ‘not affordable’.

NHS England figures show the strike resulted in more than 113,000 inpatient and outpatient appointments across England being postponed. Of these, 677 were at York and Scarborough Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust – with 234 appointments postponed on one day alone, Wednesday January 3. The hospital trust says of the 677 appointments postponed, 69 were procedures – including operations – scheduled to take place in hospital. The remainder were outpatient appointments.

The figures also show an average of 147 junior doctors were on strike each day over the six-day period at York and Scarborough hospitals trust, with the walkout peaking at 232 doctors on Thursday January 4.

Commenting on the impact of the strike, a spokesperson for the hospitals trust said: “While extremely busy in our emergency departments at times, we coped.” But with cold weather expected to cause a rise in flu cases and winter hospitalisations, they added a plea to people to use the health service responsibly.

“It’s always worth a reminder to people… in winter months to choose services appropriately and take simple steps to help ensure care is available to patients who need it most,” the spokesperson said. “This includes using 111 online as the first port, and only using 999 if it is a serious or life-threatening emergency.”

“This puts an incredible strain on staff who have been covering striking colleagues as we continue to navigate one of the most difficult times of year,” he added. Louise Ansari, chief executive at Healthwatch England, said patients bear the brunt of industrial action. “We are urging the Government and the BMA to redouble their efforts to reach an agreement,” she said.

The BMA’s chair of council Professor Phil Banfield said last week: “It is clear (members of the public) want an NHS properly staffed, with doctors paid fairly for their expertise and an immediate end to this dispute. “The pressure is on for (Rishi Sunak) to give junior doctors a credible offer, one that will retain their unique skills and help build a better NHS.”