Non-urgent surgery and appointments may be cancelled during junior doctors strike action

Health news.
Health news.

Some operations and appointments at Bedford Hospital may be cancelled tomorrow (Tuesday) when junior doctors take strike action over pay and conditions.

Hospital chiefs say that all patients who are booked in for planned, non-urgent surgery will be called by medical staff to let them know if their operation will be going ahead.

Our priority first and foremost during any disruption is to protect our vital emergency and urgent care services.

Karen Ward, Bedford Hospital chief operating officer

Those with other appointments, such as diagnostic and outpatient appointments, will only be contacted if their appointment needs to be cancelled.

There are around 80 junior doctors based at Bedford Hospital. The 24-hour strike action begins tomorrow at 8am when these doctors will only provide emergency care.

Further action is planned for January 26 and a full walk-out is proposed for Wednesday, February 10.

If any patient is unsure whether their operation or other appointments will be going ahead on any of the strike days, or they would like to check, they can call the number on their hospital appointment letter.

Across the country, up to 45,000 junior doctors will go on strike after three weeks of talks broke down between the British Medical Association and the government.

Among contract changes being proposed by the government is changes to the number of hours during the working week that are classed as unsociable and, therefore, are paid at a higher rate.

Bedford Hospital chief operating officer Karen Ward said: “We have tried and tested plans to deal with a range of disruptions, including industrial action, and over the last week we have been working closely with our commissioners and other partners to refine our contingency plans in order to minimise disruption to our services, whilst protecting the safety and welfare of our patients.

“Our priority first and foremost during any disruption is to protect our vital emergency and urgent care services.

“Over the course of the planned strike action, we will continue to keep local residents, our patients and their families, closely informed of the situation.”

The trust has also issued a reminder to local residents about using A&E services wisely over the next few weeks.

Ms Ward said: “As always, we would like to remind local residents to consider alternatives first, such as pharmacists, GP surgeries and the NHS 111 service.

“Choosing the right service for your needs helps us to focus our attention on the most seriously unwell patients and can also save you time.”

Further information about getting appropriate care can be found at www.bedfordshireccg.nhs.uk.

>Junior doctors earn a basic salary of £22,636 during their first year, rising to £28,076 in the second year but this is topped up by bonuses for working more than the basic 40 hours a week and/or work outside of the hours of 7am to 7pm Monday to Friday. The additional bonus is normally between 20 per cent and 50 per cent of the basic salary.

Junior doctors in specialist training receive a basic starting salary of £30,002.