Junior doctors strike across the Black Country

Junior doctors form a picket line at Russells Hall Hospital

Hospitals across the Black Country and Staffordshire are providing emergency care only after thousands of junior doctors went on strike.

Despite last-ditch talks to prevent the damaging action, around 4,000 operations and procedures have been cancelled across the country, with thousands more routine appointments also postponed. Doctors were forming picket lines outside the regions hospitals today with groups congregating outside Russells Hall Hospital demanding fairer conditions. 

One doctor told The Guardian: "The reason that were striking is we feel the government is trying to impose an unsafe contract on junior doctors which massively squeezes [the NHS] and doctors who feel undervalued and abused by the system.

"Jeremy Hunt wants to unilaterally impose a contract which will further stretch tired and overworked junior doctors in a time of austerity. If he had come to us and said your elderly patients don’t all get seen in the weekend and we want to change that - that’s a serious rational concern that we could have addressed. But he’s using rubbish statistics to push his own political agenda.

"I think stretching what is currently a five day cover without any more doctors or support services would reduce continuity of care and efficiency."

At Sandwell General Hospital, a state of emergency has been declared. An internal memo has been issued, requiring all junior doctors to report for work. However the BMA has advised them not to until proper protocol is followed.

Anne Rainsberry, national incident director for NHS England, said: 

"Sandwell Hospital has reported that it has been experiencing exceptional and sustained pressure. In line with the local agreement between the trust and the BMA, their medical director has asked junior doctors to return until such a time as the pressure is relieved. 

"The local NHS is actively reviewing the situation to support the trust. Nationally, we are continuing to work closely with our BMA colleagues to ensure patient safety."

Patients have been told hospitals are under pressure and asked to attend A&E only if they have a genuine emergency. Instead, patients are being asked to make the most of other NHS services, including GPs, walk-in centres, the 111 phone line and pharmacies.


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