Hospitals left to 'pick up the pieces' as junior doctors strike ends

Junior doctors protest opposite Downing Street, London.
The recent five-day walkout was the 11th strike by junior doctors in 20 months. Credit: PA

Health leaders have warned that strikes "must not become the status quo" for the NHS as junior doctors return to work after a five-day walkout.

Experts said that patients are “bearing the brunt” of the dispute, with tens of thousands of appointments, procedures and operations expected to be postponed as a result of the industrial action by members of the British Medical Association (BMA).

NHS leaders said that hospitals have been left to "pick up the pieces" as staff try to reschedule all of the appointments lost during the strike days.

Both the Conservatives and Labour have pledged to resume talks with the BMA’s Junior Doctors Committee if they are voted to power.

Health Secretary Victoria Atkins pledged to “get back into the negotiating room immediately after the election”, while Labour’s shadow health secretary Wes Streeting said that he will call the BMA on Friday, July 5.

Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said the impact of the strike will be felt “for some time to come”, adding: “We hope that the next government can re-start negotiations and bring this dispute to an end so the NHS can focus on improving performance and cutting waiting lists."

Medics in training have said their pay has been cut by more than a quarter over the last 15 years and have called for a 35% increase.

Professor Philip Banfield, chair of council at the BMA, said: "This week the prime minister sadly declined to make a commitment to fair pay."

"A refusal to simply listen to frontline staff and deal with chronic workforce shortages has led to waiting lists at scandalous lengths and an NHS at the point of collapse."

The walkout was the 11th strike by junior doctors in 20 months.

Junior doctors make up half of the medical workforce and their last walkout in February led to 91,048 appointments, procedures and operations being cancelled.

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