AS the British Medical Association (BMA) works to avert a second doctors’ strike, Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is counting the cost of Tuesday’s strike action when every attempt was made to cover scheduled operations and clinics.
The result was just two operations postponed across the trust area, at North Hampshire Hospital in Basingstoke, and 12 out of 115 scheduled outpatient clinics postponed. Three out of seven were postponed at Alton Community Hospital, four out of 57 at Basingstoke, three out of 35 at Royal Hampshire County Hospital, Winchester, and two out of 16 at Andover War Memorial Hospital, meaning that 103 went ahead as planned.
Nationally, around 3,000 operations due to take place on Tuesday were postponed, averaging around one in 10 scheduled for that day.
NHS England said that around 10,000 out of 26,000 junior doctors scheduled to work the day shift on Tuesday reported for duty, most of whom had agreed in advance to make sure emergency cover was provided.
The action was taken after the British Medical Association and the government failed to reach agreement on a proposed new contract for junior doctors.
The BMA, which is concerned about pay for weekend working, career progression and safeguards to protect doctors from being overworked, said the strike had sent a “clear message” to the government.
However, Health Secretary and Farnham MP Jeremy Hunt described the walkout as “completely unnecessary” and urged junior doctors to return to the negotiating table.
In praising the “tremendous effort” of those staff who worked hard to mitigate the impact of industrial action on patients, Donna Green, chief nurse at Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We apologise for any inconvenience caused to the small number of patients whose appointments did need to be postponed. These will be rescheduled as soon as possible. We put in place a range of measures to look after patients as safely as possible, with senior medical staff and senior nursing staff utilised on the wards and in our emergency departments.”
She added: “We are already working on a plan to minimise disruption during the 48-hour strike scheduled to take place later this month and are hoping to keep the number of postponed appointments as low as possible.”