Operations and appointments cancelled during junior dcotors’ walk out

Junior doctors strike action.
Junior doctors strike action.

A total of 12 operations and less that 50 appointments had to be cancelled on Tuesday when junior doctors took strike action.

Around half of Bedford Hospital’s 80 junior doctors walked out in a row over working hours and pay.

Hospital chief operating officer Karen Ward said: “Our main priority is to protect the welfare and safety of our patients.

“Any patients that were affected by the disruption were contacted in good time, and many of our services were able to function as normal.”

On Tuesday, junior doctors were only providing emergency care over a 24-hour period.

Following the action, the government and British Medical Association have resumed talks over changes to contracts, which have sparked patient safety fears over longer working hours.

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

On further days of strike action, the hospital has announced that some non-urgent planned operations and appointments may have to be rearranged in order to ensure that vital urgent care services are delivered safely.

The trust is advising that all patients who have a planned operation on a day with strike action will be phoned by the hospital, with as much notice as possible, to inform them whether or not their operation will go ahead.

Patients with other appointments, such as diagnostic and outpatient appointments, will only be contacted if their appointment needs to be cancelled, otherwise they should attend as planned.

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

contact the number on their hospital letter.

Ms Ward said: “We have tried and tested plans to deal with a range of disruptions, including industrial action, and 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 hospital has also issued a reminder about using A&E services wisely over the next few weeks.

Ms Ward added: “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 where to find the appropriate care can be found at www.bedfordshireccg.nhs.uk.