The young doctors’ strike led to 175,000 cancellations

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More than 175,000 patient appointments and procedures had to be canceled in England when young doctors went on strike this week, figures reveal.

It makes it the most disruptive NHS strike to date this winter.

Tens of thousands of doctors participated in the 72-hour strike, with more experienced hospital colleagues invited to cover.

Young doctors’ representatives at the British Medical Association (BMA) have now accepted an offer to start pay talks with the government.

The BMA said it would not announce any further strike action during negotiations.

Although emergency care was provided by consultants during the strike, many planned and elective treatments were postponed.

NHS England Medical Director Professor Sir Stephen Powis said: “Despite the tremendous efforts made by NHS staff to ensure patient safety and minimize disruption, this strike has been unprecedented in scale and has had a bigger impact than any other industrial action we’ve seen so far this winter combined.

“More than 175,000 appointments and procedures have been postponed to protect emergency, critical and urgent care for patients, which will inevitably impact Covid backlog efforts.”

Some of the delayed appointments and procedures will include hip and knee operations, as well as routine check-ups for patients with conditions such as diabetes and even cancer.

The NHS has tried to tackle a backlog made worse by Covid – there are still 7.2 million people on waiting lists for treatment in England.

Nurses, paramedics and physiotherapists also staged strikes this winter but have now suspended their actions while they consider a government wage offer.

The Department of Health and Social Care said it deeply regretted the cancellation of the appointments, but was “pleased” that the BMA had agreed to start talks, on the same terms as the unions representing other NHS workers.

He added that the government was seeking a “fair settlement that recognizes the crucial role of young doctors and the wider economic pressures the UK faces”.

The BMA said he sent a letter to Health Secretary Steve Barclay on Friday after the government’s new pay offer to other NHS workers, offering to meet next week.

In a Twitter post, the BMA said its aim was to achieve a full restoration of wages, adding that it would enter negotiations in “good faith”.

The BMA is calling for a 35% pay rise for junior doctors, arguing it would reverse 15 years of cuts.

Young doctors make up almost half of the medical workforce in England and include those who have just graduated from university, up to some with 10 years’ experience.

Two-thirds of young doctors are members of the BMA.

The latest figures suggest at least 86,000 people have been involved in the industrial action this week.

Dr Vivek Trivedi and Dr Rob Laurenson, co-chairs of the BMA’s Young Doctors Committee, said: “Every day, young doctors despair as they see operations canceled and treatments postponed for millions of people on medical lists. waiting because our health services are in crisis.

“But the rescheduling of appointments following the strike could have been avoided if the Health Secretary had come to the table and brokered a deal with us before any strike.

“The NHS had over two months’ notice that we would strike for 72 hours if the ballot was successful; the government has had no doubts about our campaign for the restoration of full wages for over six months and that has confirmed by the number of young doctors in England who took part in the industrial action.

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