250,000 operations postponed due to doctors' strike: NHS
The United Kingdom's national health service reveals that hundreds of thousands of medical procedures were postponed in light of the ongoing doctors' strike in the country.
The NHS Confederation has warned that 250,000 medical procedures and appointments might be postponed owing to next week's four-day strike planned by tens of thousands of doctors in England, saying it would put dangerously sick patients at risk.
“We are very concerned about the potential severity of impact on patients and services across the country,” Stephen Powis, national medical director for NHS England, said in a statement, highlighting that hospitals are facing over 100 hours without even half of the NHS medical personnel.
Junior doctors are planning a four-day strike beginning Tuesday, April 11. The strike is occurring amid a particularly busy period for the NHS, with demand for services likely to be high following the Easter bank holiday weekend, and with many other NHS employees on annual leave during the school holidays.
McCay estimated that the strike may extend up to 10 or 11 days, including the Easter weekend and another weekend.
"The impact is going to be so significant that this one is likely to have an impact on patient safety, and that is a huge concern for every healthcare leader," she said.
While hospital administrators attempt to set up personnel during the strike, which will impact both emergency and scheduled treatment, they are unable to ensure that patients will be safe.
According to the British Medical Association (BMA), no services would be exempted from the strike, although there are provisions to protect patients, including the possibility of removing young physicians from the picket line if specific hospitals indicate that lives are in urgent danger.
Industrial action timed to cause maximum disruption
The BMA's junior physicians committee deputy head, Dr. Michael Greenhalgh, apologized to patients who had surgeries or appointments rescheduled and stressed that patient safety would not be jeopardized. Patient safety would be protected in these strikes, he stressed, just as it was in the previous ones.
Despite calls for UK health secretary Steve Barclay to speak with union leaders in an effort to address the problem, negotiations remained stalled Friday night because the minister said the BMA must call off the strike before any talks can begin.
"It is deeply disappointing that this industrial action has been timed by the BMA's junior doctors committee to cause maximum disruption to both patients and other NHS staff," he wrote in The Telegraph.
Similar concerns were voiced last month when a strike for junior doctors over low wages and burnout in the heels of recent walkouts by nurses and ambulance staff led to tens of thousands of hospital appointments and surgeries being canceled.
The three-day strike united around 61,000 trainee doctors in pursuit of a 26% pay raise.
The Guardian reported at the time that the strike may disrupt the NHS. According to the newspaper, NHS departments have postponed a lot more appointments and surgeries than they had to during recent strikes also held by nurses and ambulance staff.
Military asked to keep facilities running
The NHS has been dealing with a severe shortage of healthcare workers since many people have been leaving the profession as a result of excessive workload and inflation; they have not had the chance to upgrade their skills.
As a result, thousands of UK ambulance workers repeatedly staged protests over the winter to demand their rights amid the surging inflation.
The UK government asked for the military to keep the medical facilities running while the workers are on strike.
Nurses, physical rehabilitation specialists, paramedics, their assistants, and other healthcare workers also joined the strikes.
Moreover, it was reported in mid-March that the UK government reached a pay raise deal with the healthcare trade union hoping to end months-long strikes.
The Unions of the NHS and representatives of the UK government have reached a "tentative" agreement and noted that the new agreement exceeds the former one in which the government suggested a 3.5% pay raise. Rather the new agreement involved a revised pay offer for the 2023-2024 financial year reaching beyond the 3.5% previously negotiated.