More operations are being postponed in York and North Yorkshire as junior doctors started a three-day strike this morning (Wednesday).
The doctors are staffing picket lines from 7am today to 7am on Saturday (23 December) in a major escalation in the bitter dispute over pay.
Hospital leaders have described the walkouts as their “worst fears realised” as they grapple with a rising number of people needing help with winter viruses, particularly norovirus.
York and Scarborough Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “Unfortunately, we will need to postpone a number of operations and appointments over the period of strike action, which we will be re-arranging as a priority.
“We appreciate this situation is frustrating for patients affected and apologise for any inconvenience caused. Anyone with an appointment should continue to attend as planned unless they have been contacted to rearrange.
“Urgent and emergency treatment remains our priority and patients can continue to access care from our emergency departments, maternity services and critical services for inpatients. It is vital that people do not put off seeking care.
“It is even more important people choose services wisely over this period so that care is available to patients who need it most. This includes using 111 online as the first port of call for health needs and continuing to only use 999 if it is a life-threatening emergency.”
Doctors’ strike Q&A
The York NHS Trust issued this Q&A
What if I have an appointment on a strike day?
Everyone who has an appointment should attend as planned, unless we have contacted you to reschedule.
In a joint statement, BMA junior doctors committee co-chairs, Dr Robert Laurenson and Dr Vivek Trivedi, said: “We had hoped that after a much-improved tone and approach from the new Health Secretary, Victoria Atkins, we were close to a solution to this dispute.
“We were encouraged by her insistence last week that even after our mutually agreed deadline had passed and we were forced to call new strikes, we had still not heard her ‘final offer’.
“We have spent the last two weeks awaiting this final offer in the hope it would be the long-awaited credible offer we could put to our members. Unfortunately, we are still yet to hear it.”
Commenting on the action, Sir Julian Hartley, chief executive of NHS Providers, said: “Trust leaders’ worst fears have been realised – they were dreading more strikes this winter, and now junior doctors are starting a three-day full walkout. This is the last thing the NHS needs.
“Last winter was the worst that many trust leaders can remember and they’re expecting this one to be even tougher.
“We urge the Government and unions, without any preconditions, to get back round the negotiating table, break the deadlock and stop these strikes.”