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West's junior doctors begin 48 hour strike

Credit: ITV West Country

Junior doctors across the South West will walk out on strike again this morning (9 March) from 8am.

It's the latest action in a row over new contracts. The BMA say their striking against the imposed changes in pay for unsocial hours, claiming it devalues the work doctors do on evenings and weekends.

Picket line in Taunton from the second strike action taken in February. Credit: ITV West Country

This will be the first 48 hour strike, ending at 8am on Friday.

Hundreds of non-emergency operations and appointments have been cancelled, but emergency cover is still being provided.

Credit: ITV West Country

Meanwhile, all hospitals in Somerset remain on Black Alert - meaning they're all struggling to cope with unprecedented demand for services.

Patients have been urged to stay away from A & E unless it's a genuine emergency.

Royal Cornwall Hospital declares 'Black Alert' over high demand

The Royal Cornwall Hospital has gone into its highest state of alert because of high demand on its services.

It's the first time this year the hospital has gone onto black alert, which means there aren't enough beds to cope with admissions.

At this stage it just applies to the hospital trust, not the wider health care system in Cornwall.

In response to this the Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust has implemented its 'significant internal incident plan'.

We are in communication with our partner organisations and GPs to support patient discharge plans including the delivery of social care packages for patients ready to leave hospital.

– Andrew MacCallum, Chief Executive

The alert means extra staff may be brought in, and some non urgent operations could be cancelled.

A hospital spokesperson told ITV News it is difficult to know how long the black alert will be in place, but it's reviewing the situation every few hours.

THINK BEFORE VISITING A&E

In the meantime the RCHT is urging patients who don't need emergency care to use other services like GP's and pharmacies to help ease the pressure.

WHAT DOES BLACK ALERT MEAN?

This is the highest level of alert, which usually means bed capacity has been reached and that patients arriving at A&E will have to be taken to another hospital. Sometimes routine operations will be cancelled to free up bed space.

NHS England classifies a black alert as a "serious incident". It means the system is under severe pressure and is unable to deliver certain actions and comprehensive emergency care.

It also means there is potential for emergency care and safety to be compromised. Decisive action must be taken to restore the hospital's capacity and ensure patient safety.

Yeovil Hospital downgraded from black to red alert

The severe pressure on emergency services at Yeovil District Hospital has eased slightly, with the hospital no longer at "black alert".

The alert status has now been downgraded to "red alert", the second highest possible level of severity. The hospital is still very busy and says it is facing significant operational challenges.

Black alert occurs when the hospital can no longer deal with the number of patients coming into A&E because too few are being discharged.

HOSPITALS STILL ON BLACK ALERT

  • Southmead Hospital
  • the BRI
  • Bristol Royal Hospital for Children
  • Weston General Hospital

WHAT DOES RED ALERT MEAN?

A hospital on red alert means that wards are still very busy with limited bed space. All non-urgent work and clinics are usually cancelled so that resourced can be concentrated on the emergency services.

It also means urgent actions are required across the local health system by all partners to prevent the hospital going into black alert.

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