“Long A&E waits” expected during consultant doctors' strike, health boss warns
INDUSTRIAL action by consultant doctors this week is likely to have “a significant impact” with “long waits” in A&E expected, health bosses have warned.
Consultant doctors at Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust and across the country are planning to take industrial action from 7am on Thursday until 7am on Saturday.
The strike is followed by a bank holiday weekend – often a very busy time for the NHS, particularly emergency departments.
During the industrial action, consultants will provide "Christmas Day cover" – an emergency care only level of service.
As the period of industrial action is immediately followed by a bank holiday weekend, services are expected to be impacted for a number of days, said the hospital trust.
A trust spokesperson said: “The NHS is working hard to prioritise resources to protect emergency treatment, critical care, neonatal care, maternity, and trauma, and ensure patients who have waited the longest for elective care and cancer surgery are prioritised.
“Unfortunately, these strikes will have a significant impact upon planned and routine care.
“Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust will only reschedule appointments and procedures where necessary and will rebook immediately, where possible.
“The trust has contacted patients directly to inform them if their appointment has been cancelled. If patients have not been contacted, they should attend appointments as planned.”
The trust is also asking patients to choose services “appropriately” during industrial action and “take simple steps to help ensure care is available to patients who need it most” including using NHS 111 online as the first port of call for health needs, and only using 999 if it is a life-threatening emergency.
Trust medical director Dr Jo Beahan said: “We are expecting our services to be very busy during this period of industrial action and over the bank holiday weekend.
“Consultants work widely throughout the trust, and supervise the work of Junior Doctors, meaning the impact of this strike will be felt by many patients.
“Anybody who needs urgent care should still use our services.
“However, if urgent care is not needed, I strongly encourage the public to utilise alternatives such as NHS 111, GPs and pharmacies.
“We are expecting long waits in our Urgent and Emergency Care Centre.”
The strikes follow four days of industrial action by junior doctors earlier this month.
Consultants previously undertook a 48-hour period of industrial action in July.
The BMA has called the government's proposed pay award of less than 6 per cent for consultants “derisory, sub-inflation” and “insulting”.