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Picket lines gather outside region's hospitals

As the strike by junior doctors gets underway, many have turned up outside the region's biggest hospitals to mark their protest.

They say their striking against the imposed changes in pay for unsocial hours, claiming it devalues the work doctors do on evenings and weekends.

Outside the Gloucestershire Royal Hospital Credit: ITV News
The picket line gathering outside the Bristol Royal Infirmary Credit: ITV News
Junior doctors outside the Royal United Hospital in Bath Credit: ITV News

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Junior doctors go on strike across the South West

Junior doctors on a previous march.

Junior doctors across the South West are to go on strike from 8am this morning.

Hundreds of operations and appointments have been cancelled. It's the first of a series of walk-outs after talks with the government over a new contract broke down. Emergency cover is still being provided.

Operations postponed as junior doctors prepare to strike on 'vital issues'

The Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is warning patients' lives may be put at risk during the upcoming strike by junior doctors, who argue they have been forced into this by the government's refusal to listen.

The British Medical Association says the strike shows "the strength of feeling amongst the profession", about proposed changes to working conditions and pay - which doctors say will put more pressure on the NHS and damage the standard of patient care.

Hundreds of operations have been postponed across the West - as our Health Correspondent Katie Rowlett reports.

Junior doctor's strike to go ahead after talks fail

Last December, hundreds of appointments and operations were cancelled despite the junior doctor's strike being called off. Credit: PA

Hundreds of operations and appointments may be cancelled across the West - as hospitals prepare for tomorrow's strike by junior doctors.

It's the first in a series of walk-outs after talks with the government broke down.

Junior doctors are unhappy over a new contract which would see 'unsociable hours' cut - meaning working the weekends and late nights would become 'normal', and therefore they would be paid at a lower rate.

Despite the strike, emergency cover is still being provided by hospitals.

Junior doctors will strike for 24 hours. Credit: PA

The news came as a host of NHS trusts were put on 'black alert'.

Last year a planned three-day strike in December was called off, but hundreds of patients across the West still had operations and appointments cancelled.

The strike is set to go ahead tomorrow from 8am for 24 hours.

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Somerset doctor: Help local NHS by avoiding A&E

Dr Ed Ford, Somerset CCG's GP Lead for Urgent Care Services urges the public to use their local health services responsibly by not using busy hospital A&E departments or calling 999 for an emergency ambulance with only minor illness.

The advice comes after some health and social care systems in the region declared 'Black Alert'status.

The current pressure upon Somerset's health and social care services is not simply a district hospital problem, but involves social care, GP’s, NHS111 and community services. There is some capacity in the community for patients to be treated but we are finding that some patients prefer to stay in the acute hospitals rather than be discharged into a community placement that is not their choice.

I would like to remind the public that they can help their local NHS by avoiding district hospital A&E Departments with only minor illness or ailments and making use of the many other services options available to them. If they are not sure what is the right health service for their needs they can use their local pharmacy or telephone NHS111, the free 24 hour NHS health helpline.

– Ed Ford
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