Junior doctors strike: Newham hospital trust “taking steps” to cope

Newham University Hospital

Newham University Hospital - Credit: Archant

The health trust behind Newham University Hospital has said it is working to understand the disruption that may be caused by the junior doctors strikes and is putting measures in place to cope.

Union members voted in overwhelming numbers – a total of 98 per cent – to take industrial action following a nationwide ballot of 37,000 of junior doctors by the British Medical Association (BMA), announced today.

The dispute is over a new contract for junior doctors that the union says is “unsafe for patients and unfair for doctors”.

It has declared that for 24 hours from 8am on December 1 only emergency care will be provided by junior doctors while a full withdrawal of labour will take place from 8am to 5pm on December 8 and 16.

A spokeswoman for Barts Health NHS Trust said the trust was “taking steps” to ensure staff could continue to provide “high quality care” to patients on strike days.

There are about 1,000 junior doctors employed across the trusts’ four major hospitals, including Newham, Whipps Cross, St Bartholomew’s and The Royal London Hospitals. About two-thirds of these are BMA members, the spokeswoman said.

She added: “The role of the Trust is to provide safe and compassionate care for all our patients while also maintaining our duty of care to our own staff.

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“We are taking steps to ensure that our staff can continue to provide high quality care to our patients on strike days.

“This includes putting in place measures that will enable us to make real-time assessments of staffing levels, ensure a quick response to any issues that might develop, and working with our junior doctors to allow us to continue to provide safe and compassionate care to all our patients.

“We are also working closely with our colleagues in the BMA to understand what disruption may be caused to the full range of services we provide.

“Our overriding priority is to ensure we continue to provide high standards of patient safety and care at all times.”

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has industrial action will “put patients at risk” and called the decision to strike “regrettable”.

He added: “We hope junior doctors will consider the impact this action – especially the withdrawal of emergency care – will have on patients and reconsider.”