Walk out hits Yorkshire ops as row over junior doctors' contract continues

Junior doctors across Yorkshire have walked out for the fourth time as a bitter dispute with the Government continues.

Wednesday, 6th April 2016, 5:42 pm
Updated Wednesday, 6th April 2016, 5:51 pm
Junior Doctors on the picket line outside Leeds General Infirmary

Hundreds of patients in the region have been affected by the 48-hour stoppage, which began yesterday morning.

Outpatients appointments were most severely hit, while some routine operations were also rescheduled as a result of the strike over a new contract which the Government is forcing on junior doctors.

Nationally, more than 5,100 procedures and operations were postponed as a result of the action, which saw junior medics providing emergency care only.

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At Leeds hospitals, a total of 600 outpatients appointments were set to be postponed, while 59 planned procedures or operations were being rescheduled.

Medics joined picket lines at hospitals in Leeds and throughout Yorkshire during the action.

Phil Atkinson, a junior doctor in anaesthetics who works in West Yorkshire, said: “The Government are not listening to our concerns. That’s the sad thing.

“The concerns of 54,000 front line staff have not been addressed.

“We feel the threat of this contract to patients and the future of the profession justifies the industrial action, though we would like to apologise to anyone who has had their care disrupted as a result.

“We can see the harm this contract is going to do to patients and the NHS and we cannot just be silent.”

He said this latest strike had been well-supported and feedback from the public was positive.

Later this month, junior doctors are planning an all-out strike – the first in the history of the NHS.

Dr Atkinson reassured patients that if this action goes ahead, emergency care would still be provided for patients by consultants and other doctors, but junior doctors felt they had “been backed into a corner by this government”.

Dr Johann Malawana, chairman of the British Medical Association’s junior doctor committee, said: “We deeply regret any disruption this action will cause to patients, but it is because we believe this contract would be bad for the delivery of patient care in the long term that we are taking this action.

“By imposing a contract that junior doctors have no confidence in and refusing to re-enter talks with the BMA, the Government has left us with no choice.

“We want a contract that is fair for all junior doctors - not one which the Government has admitted will disadvantage women - and ensures that they feel valued and motivated so that the NHS can retain the GPs and hospital doctors of the future.”

The BMA is launching a judicial review challenging the lawfulness of the imposition of the contract.

A Department of Health spokeswoman added that: “This strike is irresponsible and disproportionate, and, with almost 25,000 operations cancelled so far, it is patients who are suffering.

“If the BMA had agreed to negotiate on Saturday pay, as they promised to do through Acas in November, we’d have a negotiated agreement by now.”