Doctor strike cancels 200 appointments
JUNIOR doctors have thanked patients and the public for their support after more than 200 appointments were cancelled during their latest strike action.
Doctors picketed outside Macclesfield Hospital as part of a two-day strike in protest against government changes to working contracts. It was the third time in three months doctors have walked out over the issue, but the first time it has lasted more than 24 hours.
The hospital postponed two operations and 98 outpatient appointments on Wednesday (March 9) and 107 appointments yesterday (Thursday, March 10).
But the doctors, members of the British Medical Association (BMA) union, said they welcomed sup- port from the public.
Rosie Long, BMA representative at Macclesfield, said: “On behalf of the junior doctors at Macclesfield I would like to thank the general public for their overwhelming support throughout our industrial action.
“No junior doctor wants to take part in industrial action and we apologise to patients who have experienced disruptions.
“We feel we have been left with no choice since the government has cho- sen to impose a new contract rather than continuing negotiations with the BMA.
“At Macclesfield we have been very fortunate for the support from our consultant colleagues as well as the other staff.”
The focus of the dispute is over how much doctors should be paid to work weekends and the BMA wants better measures to protect doctors from working long hours without breaks. The 48-hour walkout signals an escala- tion of the dispute after health secretary Jeremy Hunt refused to back down and decided to impose the new contracts.
A spokesman for East Cheshire NHS Trust, which runs Macclesfield Hospital, said the longer strike had more impact on appointments. Contingency plans included consultants coming onto the wards to keep appointments. He said: “Patients who had appointments postponed were phoned the day before. We had to leave it this late in case the strike was called off. The trust put contingencies in place to minimise disruption and ensure the safety of its services.
“The industrial action is due to a national dispute over terms and conditions and is not directly related to East Cheshire NHS Trust.”
Further 48-hour strikes are planned from 8am on April 6 and April 26.
●● Junior doctors on strike outside Macclesfield Hospital