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‘Biggest walkout NHS has ever seen’ will put patients at risk, health body warns

More patients than ever before will be put at risk when consultants and junior doctors begin the “biggest walkout the NHS has ever seen”, the body that speaks for health trusts has warned.

The latest round of industrial action in England, when consultants will strike in a dispute over pay on Tuesday and Wednesday and junior doctors on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, would force hospitals to cancel a higher number of appointments and operations than ever before, the NHS Confederation revealed.

Among the patients who were being placed in the greatest danger were the increasing number of people who have already had their operations cancelled due to strike action, and now face having their rescheduled appointments cancelled again, health officials have warned. That included growing numbers of cancer patients, who were expected to be more affected than in previous rounds of strikes.

The government will launch a consultation on Tuesday over plans to impose new regulations on striking doctors and nurses to ensure hospitals provide a minimum level of cover.

The regulations, which would cover urgent, emergency and “time-critical” hospital-based health services, would mean that employers could issue a “work notice” compelling doctors and nurses to work during industrial action, in order to maintain “necessary and safe levels of service”. Clinicians who still take industrial action could run the risk of losing their job.

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Source: The Guardian, 19 September 2023


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