Pa­tients hit by GP strike

Macclesfield Express - - EAST CHESHIRE HOSPICE - KAREN BRIT­TON

SEVENTY hos­pi­tal ap­point­ments were can­celled when ju­nior doc­tors went out on strike over a con­tract dis­pute, it has been re­vealed.

At least 31 of the 65 ju­nior doc­tors in var­i­ous de­part­ments took part in the 24-hour strike at Mac­cles­field Hos­pi­tal on Tues­day, Jan­uary 12, dur­ing a day of strikes up and down the coun­try over pro­pos­als for a new work­ing con­tract by the govern­ment.

They gath­ered out­side the site with plac­ards stat­ing: ‘Not fair, not safe’.

It meant that 70 out­pa­tient ap­point­ments were can­celled and doc­tors and con­sul­tants were called on to wards which were short of staff to cover ap­point­ments.

No op­er­a­tions were can­celled as a re­sult of the strike.

It was the first time in the his­tory of the NHS that ju­nior doc­tors have gone on strike.

The de­ci­sion to go ahead with the walk-out was taken by the Bri­tish Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion (BMA) over a dis­pute with the govern­ment about new con­tracts, which in­clude slash­ing pre­mium pay for doc­tors work­ing evenings and week­ends.

Doc­tors ar­gue the pro­pos­als will mean cuts to pay and long work­ing hours that will threaten the safety of staff and pa­tients.

A BMA spokesman said: “Ju­nior doc­tors in East Cheshire did not take part in this in­dus­trial ac­tion lightly.

“But af­ter two years of the BMA at­tempt­ing to reach a res­o­lu­tion there has been a com­plete break­down of trust be­tween Jeremy Hunt and ju­nior doc­tors be­cause he con­tin­ues to threaten to im­pose an un­safe and un­fair con­tract.

“This in­cludes re­mov­ing safe­guards that pre­vent ju­nior doc­tors from be­ing forced to work in­cred­i­bly long hours with­out breaks – a clear threat to the safety of pa­tients. The BMA wants a con­tract that is safe for pa­tients, fair for ju­nior doc­tors and good for the NHS.”

A spokesman for East Cheshire NHS Trust, which runs Mac­cles­field Hos­pi­tal, said the trust put con­tin­gen­cies in place to min­imise dis­rup­tion.

He said: “Con­sul­tants and doc­tors were called on to wards to do out­pa­tient ap­point­ments.

“The in­dus­trial ac­tion is due to a na­tional dis­pute over changes to ju­nior doc­tors’ terms and con­di­tions and not di­rectly re­lated to East Cheshire NHS Trust.”

The BMA an­nounced yes­ter­day (Tues­day) it has sus­pended a 48-hour walk-out which was planned for next Tues­day af­ter mak­ing some progress in talks with the govern­ment.

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