JUNIOR doctors have walked out on strike for the fourth time as a long-running dispute over contract changes rumbles on.
Members of the British Medical Association (BMA), including those at Rotherham Hospital, began the 48-hour walkout at 8am today (Wednesday).
A spokeswoman said for Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the hospital, said four operations have been postponed because of the strike and 82 patients had been affected by cancelled clinics.
She added: "All patients whose treatment has been affected have been notified. Therefore, anyone who has an appointment at the trust and has not heard from us, should attend as normal.
“Although junior doctors are still providing emergency cover, it is likely that A & E will be extremely busy and we would urge people to think about the best place to access care if they become ill.
"Getting the right care, first time, will ensure that they get the best possible treatment, leaving emergency health services free for those who need them most.
"A&E is for serious and life-threatening injuries and conditions. If you are not sure where to attend, call NHS 111 for advice."
Doctors are providing emergency cover but NHS England said 5,000 operations and procedures have been postponed across the country.
The BMA claim health secretary Jeremy Hunt failed to undertake an equality impact assessment (EIA) prior to the government imposing terms and conditions on junior doctors.
The changes include the curbing of junior doctors’ pay package and changes to what is classed as “unsociable hours.”
Guaranteed pay increases linked to time in the job are also expected to be scrapped and replaced with a system linked to progression through set training stages.
Dr Johann Malawa, BMA junior doctors’ committee chairman, said: “This is yet another example of the incompetence which the government has demonstrated throughout its handling of the dispute.
“Imposing this contract will seriously undermine the ability of the NHS to recruit and retain junior doctors in areas of medicine with the most unsocial areas, where there are already staffing shortages.
”The strike action, which will involve all junior doctors, except those on-call to provide emergency cover, will take place from 8am on Wednesday until 8am on Friday.”
The BMA will also hold a full withdrawal of labour later this month between 8am and 5pm on April 26 and 27.