Outpatients appointments, procedures and some operations have been cancelled at hospitals across Sussex as doctors prepare for tomorrow’s (January 12) strike.
The strike begins across England at 8am and junior doctors will only be providing emergency care.
Industrial action was announced last week, after talks between the doctor’s union, the BMA and the NHS broke down.
The BMA last month agreed to cancel three strikes to re-enter talks with the government.
The British Medical Association (BMA) said the government has ‘continually failed’ to address junior doctors’ concerns, arguing government proposals to change their contracts would be ‘unsafe’ for patients and ‘unfair’ for doctors.
Doctors are arguing the changes – proposed to improve seven-day NHS services — will result in a pay cut.
The new contract proposes an 11 per cent rise in basic pay for junior doctors.
However, the number of hours during the week which are classed as ‘unsociable’ and therefore better paid – are being cut.
The government also proposes to scrap guaranteed pay increases, linked to time in the job, and replace them with a system where junior doctors progress through different stages in training.
Prime Minister David Cameron has warned the strike will cause ‘real difficulties for patients and potentially worse’, adding the strike was unnecessary and ‘damaging’. Mr Cameron has urged doctors not to strike and continue talks.
NHS England said 1,425 inpatient operations and procedures were being cancelled as a result of the strike alongside 2,535 outpatient ones.
It said there are around 4,000 cancellations in total, of which 3,400 are on Tuesday.
Junior doctors are also set to walk out on January 26 with a full walk out – including emergency care – proposed for February 10.
Will you be affected?
Most hospitals have said if patients have not been contacted, then their appointments will be going ahead as planned.
Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs St Richard’s Hospital and Worthing Hospital said it has postpone a ‘small number’ of planned appointments.
Medical director Dr George Findlay said: “We have taken the decision to postpone a small number of appointments and procedures to ensure we can maintain our normal standards of patient safety during the industrial action.
“We will be contacting everyone affected to reschedule their treatment as soon as possible.”
East Sussex Healthcare Trust, which runs Conquest Hospital in Hastings and Eastbourne DGH has contacted patients who have had appointments cancelled and asked patients who have not been contacted to attend as normal.
Junior medics from Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals Trust, which runs Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton and the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath said appointments will go ahead as planned unless patients have been contacted.
A message on the trust’s website states: “We would encourage the public to help keep our Emergency Department free for emergencies and use other services such as NHS 111, the Urgent Treatment Centre at Crawley Hospital and the Brighton Station Health Centre if possible.”
A spokeswoman for Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs East Surrey Hospital and services at Crawley and Horsham hospitals, said: “Patients whose appointments may be affected by the strike have been contacted. If the strike is cancelled, outpatient clinics will continue as planned.”
Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust chief executive Michael Wilson said: “Our junior doctors are a valuable part of our team and we are discussing their plans with them.
“We have established business continuity plans and these will be put in place during any industrial action to ensure patient safety and that we continue to provide high quality care for our patients.
“We thank our patients for their understanding as we work to make sure that any inconvenience is kept to a minimum.”
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