Home Business News NHS warn strikes have come ‘at the worst possible time’ which has closed Cheltenham A&E

NHS warn strikes have come ‘at the worst possible time’ which has closed Cheltenham A&E

by LLB staff reporter
20th Dec 23 11:25 am

NHS chiefs are warning there will be “significant disruption” to services as junior doctors in England have taken to the picket lines.

The strikes have come at the “worst possible time” for the NHS and leaders have shared their “disappointment” that talks between the government and the British Medical Association (BMA) broke down.

Doctors have accused the government of walking “away from talks” and now junior doctors are to stage a series of strikes which has forced Cheltenham A&E to temporarily close at various points in the coming weeks.

Professor Sir Stephen Powis, national medical director for the NHS in England, told the PA news agency, “This is coming at the worst possible time of year for us where we are beginning to see those winter pressures that we always see around the festive season, with flu cases and Covid cases on the rise.

“So there is no doubt this is going to be a challenging period and we will see disruption once again.”

Asked whether the temporary closure of Cheltenham A&E could be repeated in other parts of the country, he told PA: “That is an exceptional case and it mirrors what has happened in previous strike days.

“There are local variations in place to manage the strike days but our aim is to ensure that emergency services are there for patients when they need them.

“We want to keep patients safe, the BMA also stated they wish to keep patients safe, and we will be ensuring that we have a laser focus on ensuring our most urgent and emergency pathways are there.”

He added, “This will be a disruptive period – three days this week, six days – the longest period of strike action that we’ve seen – early in the new year.

“Of course that’s after the new year festivities where we see activity growing, so it’s that second period of strike action in January that is giving us the most concern.”

Health Secretary Victoria Atkins said, “We know that despite these measures and the hard work of NHS staff, these strikes can cause significant disruption to patients and add extra pressure on the NHS.

“My door remains open should the BMA junior doctors committee cancel these disruptive strikes and come back to the negotiating table as we were making good progress.”

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