Sussex junior doctors strike: 'We will continue to leave and waiting times will go up'
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Junior doctors have today (Thursday, July 13) started a five-day walkout in the longest period of strike action in NHS history. That’s 120 hours of continuous strike action until 7am next Tuesday (July 18).
Krupali Patel, a specialist registrar at Worthing Hospital, said: “We are here today for our longest strike in history because the government is still not listening to us.
"They are aware these strikes are happening but they are not coming to the table to negotiate what is a credible offer. The Scottish government has offered 12 and a half per cent and they have called off their strikes whilst our government is refusing to speak to us.
"Some doctors will go to New Zealand or Scotland because they will get paid more than us. If you continue to treat doctors like this, we will continue to leave and waiting times will go up.
"The NHS will no longer be able to go on for another 50 decades. We have just celebrated our 75th anniversary of the NHS, that's try to get another 75 years out of it. To do that, you have to treat your staff with more respect.”
Krupali was speaking before the announcement that the government has offered NHS medics a pay rise of six per cent. This is in line with pay review body recommendations but below the 35 per cent that doctors have been asking for.
It comes after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak urged the British Medical Association (BMA) to ‘do the right thing’ and call off strikes.
Meanwhile, the British Dental Association (BDA), BMA and Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association (HCSA) have announced that consultant doctors and dentists will be taking strike action for 48 hours from 7am on Thursday, July 20 until 7am on Saturday, July 22.
During the two days of action, both BMA and BDA have advised that consultants will provide Christmas Day cover, meaning they will continue to provide all emergency services but ‘planned and routine non-urgent care will be impacted’.
NHS Sussex’s chief medical officer Dr Dinesh Sinha has asked local people for their support during the latest round of industrial action.
“As ever, our priority across health and care partners across Sussex is to provide high quality care for our local community – patients, families and carers,” he said.
"However, due to the level of industrial action planned for the weeks ahead, we expect it is going to be extremely challenging over the next fortnight.
"We understand the impact on patient care will be high so we need the help of our community. Everyone needs to make sure they are using the most appropriate service, which will help the NHS make sure care is available for those who need it most.
"For anything that isn't a life-saving emergency, use an alternative NHS service and to use NHS 111 as the first port of call, either online or over the phone. A number of minor injury units open each day that can help you with issues that need urgent attention. 111 will help guide you to where you need to be seen, face to face."
NHS England’s South East regional medical director, Dr Vaughan Lewis, said ‘we are likely to see more appointments disrupted’.
He added: “It is then followed closely by consultant strikes which will cause further disruption to planned care.
“I would like to thank the public for their help so far in using NHS services responsibly and appropriately during periods of strike action by healthcare staff and I ask people to continue to choose services wisely over the next week and to take simple steps to help ensure care is available to patients who need it most.
“This includes using 111 online as the first port of call for health needs, and only using 999 in a life-threatening emergency.”
The NHS said it is ‘working hard to prioritise resources’ to protect emergency treatment, critical care, neonatal care, maternity, and trauma, and to ‘ensure we prioritise patients who have waited the longest’ for elective care and cancer surgery.
A spokesperson added: “We will only reschedule appointments and procedures where necessary and will rebook immediately, where possible.
“We are now entering the eighth month of industrial action across the NHS and staff continue to work hard to provide patients with the best possible care under the circumstances. Industrial action has impacted approximately 600,000 hospital appointments across the NHS with over 365,000 staff shifts interrupted by industrial action during this time.”
Previous action by junior doctors saw between 21,000-24,000 staff off per day due to industrial action, the NHS said. The most recent industrial action by junior doctors in June saw 106,000 hospital appointments disrupted over three days across the country.
The spokesperson added: “It is vital the public are aware of the pressure the health service will be under this week and there are many precautions which could be taken to help keep people well and avoid putting pressures on services ahead of industrial action.
“GP practices will continue to be open during the junior doctors and consultants strikes. Please continue to attend your GP and dental appointments, unless you are contacted and told otherwise."