Disruptions hit local hospital services despite cancellation of junior doctor strike

Croydon University Hospital Pic: Marathon

Patients faced disruption at hospitals across the Eastlondonlines boroughs despite the last minute cancellation of yesterday’s planned walkout by NHS junior doctors.

Many planned non-urgent operations and routine appointments had been cancelled or postponed in anticipation of the planned strike in protest at proposed pay structure changes, with hospital staff only able to provide “emergency care” services.

John Goulston, chief executive of Croydon Health Services NHS Trust, said: “Every effort was made to limit disruption to all other services as much as possible, but unfortunately this gave us no option but to cancel some non-urgent planned care, including routine operations and outpatient clinics.”

Croydon University Hospital, managed by the Trust, had to cancel 234 out of 1,987 outpatient appointments for December 1. In addition, a further 20 non-urgent surgical procedures were also rescheduled. All 27 critical and in-patient surgeries went ahead as planned.

Goulston added: “From the outset, our priority has been making sure that all emergency and life-critical care was unaffected.  We also agreed as a Trust that all urgent operations or clinics such as those related to cancer diagnosis and treatment would continue as planned.”

Barts Health NHS Trust, which operates Mile End Hospital in Tower Hamlets and the Royal London Hospital in Hackney said in a statement: “We cannot at such short notice restore the appointments that were cancelled, but are pleased that teams worked together to cancel fewer appointments than anticipated.”

“We will continue to focus our resources constructively to maintain our mission to deliver safe and compassionate care for all our patients.”

Some inpatient and outpatient appointments were cancelled at Barts Health NHS Trust hospitals with the trust running services similar to those offered on Christmas Day.

Cancer patients needing chemotherapy, radiotherapy and urgent surgery were treated as normal despite the disruption.

The Lewisham and Greenwich NHS trust, which operate Lewisham Hospital, said it planned the cancellation of 127 procedures, including inpatient and day case operations. The Trust was unable to confirm the final number of cancellations for the day at the time of publication.

A snapshot survey of 20 NHS trusts by the Press Association showed more than 600 operations and procedures were cancelled across the country, as well as 3,500 outpatient appointments.

Industrial action was planned due to a dispute between junior doctors and the government over pay and working conditions.

All industrial action has now been postponed after Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt promised not to proceed unilaterally with the new contract for junior doctors, if the British Medical Association agreed to call off the planned strike.

The BMA has until January 13 to recommence strikes if talks fail to reach a permanent deal.

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