Hospitals in East Yorkshire are preparing for the fifth period of strike action this year by junior doctors.
The BMA and HCSA unions have announced a 96-hour period of industrial action will begin at 7am on Friday 11 August and end at 7am on Tuesday 15 August.
The walk-out will affect services across Castle Hill Hospital, Hull Royal Infirmary, Hull Women and Children’s Hospital and the Hull and East Yorkshire Eye Hospital, where junior doctors collectively number almost 500.
Junior doctors are qualified doctors who have anywhere up to eight years’ experience working in hospitals. Accounting for half of all doctors in the NHS, they play a key role in the day-to-day running of hospital services and specialties.
While it is not clear how many junior doctors will support industrial action this month, previous waves across East Yorkshire have seen between two thirds and three quarters of all those eligible taking part.
Hospital managers are once again putting plans into place to manage reduced levels of medical cover, but the timing of action – during peak summer holiday season – does give some cause for concern.
Professor Makani Purva, chief medical officer for Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust explains:
“There is never a good time for hospital staff to go on strike, but as we are now in the main summer holiday period, we have higher numbers of staff with annual leave already booked for this period.
“Staff groups including our ACPs, specialist nurses and consultants have all stepped up to help cover the absence of junior doctor colleagues previously, but we know a fair number of those people will also be taking some well-earned leave and so this makes it even harder for us to operate ‘business as usual’.”
The Trust has committed to maintaining all essential services including emergency care, neonatal care, critical care and trauma services, but some routine appointments and procedures are, once again, having to be postponed.
“Our focus must be on providing safe services first and foremost, so we will be concentrating on ensuring we can deliver the essential services safely,” Professor Purva continues.
“Some routine activity will still go ahead, so patients with appointments who haven’t already heard from us should still attend as planned, however we are regrettably having to reschedule a number of other non-urgent appointments and procedures, and for this we apologise to anyone who is affected.”
Demands on emergency care are also expected to be high, resulting in long waits to be seen, so the advice to anyone whose problem is not life-threatening is to seek advice and treatment using other local health services such as pharmacies, GP services or urgent treatment centres.
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
Information and medical advice is also available from NHS111, 24 hours a day, by calling 111 free of charge or by visiting www.111.nhs.uk
Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust is in the process of contacting patients whose appointments cannot go ahead during the strike period, with a view to rescheduling as soon as possible.