Junior doctors’ strike led to 175,000 cancellations

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Over 175,000 patient appointments and procedures had to be cancelled in England when junior doctors went on strike this week, figures reveal.

That makes it the most disruptive NHS strike yet this winter.

Tens of thousands of medics took part in the 72-hour walkout, which began on Monday, with more senior hospital colleagues asked to cover.

Emergency care was provided by consultants but many planned non-urgent treatments were rescheduled.

NHS England medical director Prof Sir Stephen Powis, said: “Despite the huge efforts that NHS staff made to keep patients safe and minimise disruption, this strike was on an unprecedented scale and had a greater impact than all the other industrial action we have seen so far this winter combined.

“Over 175,000 appointments and procedures were rescheduled to protect emergency, critical and urgent care for patients, which will inevitably impact on efforts to tackle the Covid backlog.”

Nurses, ambulance workers and physios have also staged strikes this winter, but have now paused action while they consider a pay offer from government.

Doctors’ leaders and ministers are being urged to start formal pay talks after the breakthrough on a deal with other NHS staff in England.

It’s understood the British Medical Association (BMA) will meet ministers next week for preliminary talks, which might pave the way for more substantive negotiations.

The junior doctors’ pay dispute is far from resolved, with the BMA calling for a 35% pay rise, which it argues will reverse 15 years of cuts.

Junior doctors represent nearly half of the medical workforce in England and include those who have just graduated university through to some with 10 years of experience.

Two-thirds of junior doctors are members of the British Medical Association.

The latest figures suggest at least 86,000 were involved in the industrial action.