Pickets have been organised outside every major hospital in the county, as junior doctors prepare for a mass walk-out today.
The 24-hour period of ‘emergency care only’ staffing among juniors, who are taking industrial action over the Government’s proposed changes to their contracts, will see thousands strike from 8am.
NHS bosses have warned that the move will put hospitals under “additional pressure” after trusts across the region sent out letters to patients likely to be affected by the action.
NHS England claims that 1,425 inpatient operations and procedures are being cancelled as well as more than 2,500 outpatient appointments in England as juniors look set to make a huge statement of discontent.
Today’s industrial action comes just over a week after talks between doctors’ union the British Medical Association (BMA) and the Government broke down.
A collective of Yorkshire junior doctors, who were behind the October junior doctor protest in Leeds, said: “To patients and the public; we are sorry. We don’t want to do this. We have no other choice. The Government still are not taking us seriously. However, if you are sick there will be teams to care for you and your loved ones.”
Junior doctors will picket outside Leeds General Infirmary and St James’s Hospital until 12.30pm, while Meet the Doctors and basic first aid sessions run at Oxford Place from 9am to 5pm. Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust said that it is “working hard to minimise disruption” through writing to all patients likely to be affected.
The BMA’s other planned strikes include a 48-hour period of emergency care only from January 26 and a full nine-hour walk-out on February 10.
The strikes come amid a dispute over the reform of junior doctor contracts. The Government’s last offer includes an 11 per cent basic pay rise. But this is offset by plans to cut the number of hours on a weekend for which juniors can claim extra pay for unsocial hours.
Prime Minister David Cameron wants the strike called off as it will cause “real difficulties for patients and potentially worse”. Talks between the BMA and NHS bosses will continue next week.
What to expect at your hospital
Leeds: pickets outside Leeds General Infirmary and St James’s Hospital from 8am to 12.30pm.
Meet the Doctors engagement event in and around Oxford Place, Leeds, from 9am to 5pm.
How to deal with a child choking drop-in sessions at Oxford Place Centre, in Oxford Place, from 12.30pm.
Sheffield: pickets outside Northern General Hospital (NGH) and the Royal Hallamshire Hospital.
Meet the Doctors sessions in and around Central St Mark’s Church, in Broomhill, and NGH Shirecliffe Community Centre from 9.30am.
Lifesaving skills classes for parents at St Mark’s Church, in Broomhill, from 10.45am. Around 150 people are signed up to attend the four sessions so far.
York: pickets at York Hospital from 8am to 12.30pm.
Bradford: pickets outside Bradford Royal Infirmary from 8am to 12.30pm.
Meet the Doctors events at Kala Sangam Arts Centre, in Bradford city centre, from 9am to 5pm.
Wakefield: pickets outside Pinderfields Hospital from 8am to 1pm.
Airedale: pickets at Airedale General Hospital from 7.30am to 12.30pm.
Meet the Doctors events outside the Airedale Centre, in Keighley.
Harrogate: pickets outside Harrogate District Hospital from 8am to 12noon.
Meet the Doctors events at Harrogate war memorial from 10am.
Hull: pickets at various locations outside Hull Royal Infirmary from 7.30am to 10am.
Meet the Doctors events at several locations including St Stephen’s Shopping Centre, Princes Quay Shopping Centre, Hull train station and other city centre locations from 10.30am to 12.30pm.