Pavilion Health Today
Supporting healthcare professionals to deliver the best patient care

Junior doctors begin longest consecutive strike action in history

NHS leaders are warning that the health service will be skating on the “thinnest of ice” this week as junior doctors begin the longest round of consecutive strike action in NHS history.

NHS leaders are warning that the health service will be skating on the “thinnest of ice” this week as junior doctors begin the longest round of consecutive strike action in NHS history.

Junior doctors will strike for a total of six days, beginning today (3rd January), at a time when the NHS is experiencing extremely high levels of demand.

The NHS Confederation says the first week of January is normally “the most pressurised week of the year” and they expect this round of strikes to put patient safety at “serious risk”.

This is partly down to rising levels of flu, norovirus and Covid-19 in hospitals, which are spread as people mix socially over the Christmas period, combined with higher NHS staff absences due to sickness.

The most recent data from last week shows that people in hospital with flu has jumped to an average of 942 each day – almost six times the number compared to the week before.

NHS trusts left in a “highly vulnerable position”

Tens of thousands of junior doctors are expected to take part in the strike action, which has continued into 2024 after the Junior Doctors Committee (JDC) and the government failed to reach a pay agreement last year.

“We spent the holiday period hoping we would get the ‘final offer’ that the Health Secretary had promised us last year. Sadly, we have received no such offer despite repeatedly saying we would meet for talks any time over Christmas,” said JDC co-chairs Dr Robert Laurenson and Dr Vivek Trivedi.

“We will continue to offer to meet throughout these coming strikes. All we need is a credible offer we can put to members and we can call off these strikes,” they added.

Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation says the strikes will leave many NHS trusts in a “high vulnerable position”, with many parts of the NHS skating on very thin ice.

Mr Taylor says the NHS has prepared “extensively” for this strike action, but with the impact of the last round of strikes just before Christmas still looming, staff have had no choice but to schedule in less activity. This means more delays for patients who have already faced lengthy waits for routine treatment.

Patients urged to come forward for care should they need it

NHS leaders are urging patients to continue coming forward for the care they need, however, they are urged to use 111 online if the situation is not life-threatening.

NHS National Medical Director Professor Sir Stephen Powis says staff will continue to do their best for patients, but he expects the impact of these strikes to continue well into the remaining weeks of January.

“Our colleagues across the health service are doing their very best for patients every day with extensive preparations in place, but there’s no doubt they are starting 2024 on the back foot – not only will action impact next week, it will continue to have a serious impact in the weeks after, as we recover services and deal with additional demand.

“However, I cannot stress enough that people who need care must come forward as they usually would – using 999 and A&E in life threatening emergencies and 111 online for everything else,” he said.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read more ...

Privacy & Cookies Policy