22.5k NHS cancellations due to strikes at Mid and South Essex Trust

It comes as the number of inpatient and outpatient appointments and operations cancelled due to strikes across England passed the one million mark following the first co-ordinated strike by junior doctors and consultants in history last month.

The British Medical Association said it did not want to cause further disruption to patients’ care, but the strikes “are about the long-term sustainability of the NHS and ensuring there are trained doctors around to care for all patients in the future”.

NHS figures show the Mid and South Essex NHS Trust cancelled 3,685 appointments or operations initially scheduled between September 19 and 23 as a direct result of strike action by staff.

It means the total number of treatments cancelled grew to 22,473 over the last year.

At the East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Trust, which runs Colchester and Ipswich hospitals, 1,265 appointments or operations scheduled between September 19-23 were cancelled due to strike action, taking the total number of treatments cancelled to 10,074 over the last 12months.

Strikes have been held by various NHS staff members, including consultants, junior doctors, nurses and ambulance workers.

Another joint strike by consultants and junior doctors was planned for October 2-4, the BMA announced.

Speaking last week, Health Secretary Steve Barclay said: “Today marks the grim milestone of over one million appointments cancelled as a result of strikes, with co-ordinated and calculated industrial action by the BMA creating further disruption and misery for patients and NHS colleagues.

“Regrettably, the BMA is threatening to escalate strike action again next month, which would mean the number of cancellations rising further and adding to the pressures on health services as we head into winter.”

Mr Barclay said medics have “received a fair and reasonable pay rise as recommended by the independent pay review bodies”.

He added: “Those who started their hospital training this year are receiving a 10.3 per cent pay increase, with the average junior doctor getting 8.8 per cent and consultants are receiving a six per cent pay rise alongside generous reforms to their pensions, which was the BMA’s number one ask.

“My door is always open to discuss how we can work together with NHS staff to improve their working lives, but this pay award is final so I urge unions to end this damaging disruption.”

Prof Phil Banfield, council chairman of the BMA, said the Government has not acknowledged the “cost and value of medical care”, and said it must improve the recruitment and retention of doctors.

He said: “The longer the Government buries its head in the sand, the more both strikes and waiting lists cost the public purse. It’s a no-brainer to invest in the future of the NHS workforce, rather than waste further money refusing to pitch a credible pay offer.

“Our door has been open for over a year and we hope for the sake of our patients that the Government eventually listens.”


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