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NHS England has today issued an update on the industrial action by junior doctors that is taking place during 26 and 27 April.
In the period of industrial action on 26 April 2016 (which includes the full withdrawal of emergency cover by junior doctors), the earliest available data, reported as at 0900hrs, indicates that 78% (21,608) of junior doctors who were expected to be working have not reported for duty today – this includes other forms of absence not just industrial action such as sickness.
Further NHS analysis of the last industrial action – covering the period 6 to 8 April 2016 (when emergency cover was provided) – shows that on each day of the last strike 14,600 junior doctors were not at work with approximately 12, 800 (88%) actually on strike, with the remainder absent for other reasons such as sickness.
The extra challenges caused by the escalation of the action have led to significantly more postponed elective operations during this strike.
Last week trusts said that they expect there will be 12, 711 postponed elective operations over the period of 18 April to 2 May – 4187 relating to inpatient cases and 8, 524 day cases.
They have also reported that there have been 112,856 postponed outpatient appointments over the same period.
The ongoing action – including the withdrawal of emergency care – is unprecedented in the history of the NHS and planning efforts have been stepped up across the country to ensure essential services are maintained and disruption minimised as far as possible.
Arrangements for recalling doctors from the picket line in an emergency are in place as they have been for previous strikes.
Dr Anne Rainsberry, National Incident Director for NHS England, said: “The NHS exists to help the sick and people in need and we’d like to sincerely apologise to the more than a hundred thousand people facing disruption during this strike alone, as well as the thousands more affected over the last few months.
“This is an unprecedented situation and staff across the NHS have made herculean efforts to ensure continued safe services for patients, which is always our top priority. However the escalation of this action does bring heightened risk and we are continuing to vigilantly monitor the picture across the whole of the country.
“The NHS is open for business but in some places may be under specific pressure. We ask the public to use it wisely in this very challenging time as some services may change and some may be busier than usual”.
NHS England last week issued advice to the public ahead of the strike. The NHS is working hard to ensure that as few patients as possible are affected. People can help the NHS by choosing the right service and attending A&E only if it is essential.
A dedicated webpage has been set up on the NHS Choices website at – www.nhs.uk/strike – to provide information about the strike.
The webpage is now live with the ability to find information about arrangements that your local area has made during the strike days, including information about extended opening hours. Further information about other services, including pharmacies, GP practices, dentistry etc can be found at www.nhs.uk/service-search
The webpage includes specific advice on how people can be prepared for the action, particularly if they have a long-term health condition or look after someone else, as well as outlining the impact on planned treatment and outpatient appointments. It explains that GPs will be open as usual but may be busier than normal and gives advice on when to use A&E and alternatives to A&E.