Hospital bosses in East Lancashire say they are working to minimise problems caused by tomorrow’s junior doctors’ strike.
British Medical Association (BMA) junior doctors are striking from emergency care for 24 hours from 8am on Tuesday, December 1 to 8am on Wednesday, December 2 over an ongoing pay dispute.
Tomorrow’s walkout by members of the BMA will be followed by two more planned full strikes on Tuesday, December 8 and Wednesday, December 16.
East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust which runs Royal Blackburn Hospital, Burnley General Hospital, and community hospitals in Accrington, Pendle and Clitheroe, said it has contingency plans in place to deal with the industrial action.
Dr Ian Stanley, Deputy Medical Director at the Trust, said: “Patients in need of urgent and emergency care will continue to receive the treatment they need, when they need it.
“However, due to increased pressures on the Trust, over this period, those in less urgent need of care may experience longer waiting times than normal and some elective operations will need to be postponed or rearranged - these patients are being contacted now and we apologise for the inconvenience this will cause.
“However, in all cases, priority will be given to those with the most pressing health needs to ensure that we can continue to provide safe, personal and effective care to all our patients.”
He added: “We have also been assured by our local Clinical Commissioning Groups that the strike will have no impact on routine GP appointments or primary healthcare services so we would once again remind people to only come to A and E if it is a medical emergency.”
Some 98 per cent of the BMA’s junior medics voted in favour of a full strike last week over Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s controversial proposed changes to working conditions and weekend pay.
The Government says the new contracts are being introduced in a bid to create a truly seven-day NHS, as patient mortality rates are currently higher at weekends.
But union bosses are warning that the changes would see thousands of junior medics worse-off and working longer, unsafe, hours.
Talks between the BMA and Department of Health are continuing today to try and reach a resolution before tomorrow’s strike action.