Hospitals in East Yorkshire are preparing for the impact of fresh strike action, just days after a five-day strike by junior doctors has ended.
Consultant members of the British Medical Association will begin a 48-hour walk-out from 7am on Thursday 20 July, concluding at 7am on Saturday 22 July. This will affect services at Castle Hill Hospital and Hull Royal Infirmary, as well as Hull Women and Children’s Hospital and the Hull and East Yorkshire Eye Hospital.
The BMA has advised that an ‘emergency only’ level of consultant cover, equivalent to that employed on Christmas Day, will be guaranteed.
Consultants are senior doctors and decision-makers who not only see patients themselves, but who are responsible for supervising the work of junior doctors and other hospital staff to ensure it takes place safely.
Chris Long, Chief Executive of Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust explains:
“In the most recent junior doctors strike, we had to reschedule hundreds of routine appointments but thanks to the flexibility of some of our other staff groups with the skills and experience to provide cover, we were able to maintain essential services and continue running some routine clinics and appointments.
“This time, with the guarantee of only an emergency level of consultant cover, it is much more difficult to try and plan non-urgent work. We have been working closely with our consultants to understand and potentially mitigate the impact on patients, but as consultants are the most senior and most experienced clinicians in the organisation, there is bound to be an impact, whatever the level of participation in the strike.
“We are still in the process of reviewing our lists but we have already begun rescheduling some patients where it’s clinically safe to do so. We know this is not ideal, especially for patients who have been waiting a long time to be seen, and I would like to apologise in advance to anyone who’s been affected by this activity.”
At the current time, it is not clear how many consultants from the Trust are intending to take part in industrial action as doctors are not obliged to declare in advance whether they plan to strike or not.
“It’s fair to say we are concerned about the impact of the consultants strike, and in particular the fact that it comes so soon after five days of industrial action by our junior doctors which has already led to delays for many patients.
“While we know we’ll have a ‘Christmas Day’ level of consultant cover available, we also know that demand from patients for emergency care in particular will not be on a par with Christmas Day, but will in fact be much higher. We will be putting additional staffing in to support in areas such as A&E, but waits for emergency care will be significant. Now is the time we really need the public to make use of community services, such as GPs and Urgent Treatment Centres, to help us focus the expertise we do have on the most serious and life-threatening cases.”
Where to get help
Medical advice is always available, 24hrs per day, through NHS111 online at 111.nhs.uk or by calling 111, free of charge.
A list of local pharmacies can be found on the NHS website, while walk-in care and treatment for minor injuries is available from the following centres across Hull and East Yorkshire, all of which are open late into the evening or round-the-clock:
- Hull – Story Street walk-in centre
- Bransholme – Urgent Treatment Centre within Bransholme Health Centre, Goodhart Road (open 24hrs)
- Beverley – Urgent Treatment Centre within East Riding Community Hospital, Swinemoor Lane
- Goole – Urgent Treatment Centre within Goole & District Hospital, Woodland Avenue
- Bridlington – Urgent Treatment Centre within Bridlington Hospital (Entrance A), Bessingby Road