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Hospital tells striking junior doctors to leave the picket lines

The strike at Sandwell Hospital Photo: BPM Media

A hospital in West Bromwich has declared a ‘major incident’ and told its striking junior doctors to leave the picket lines.

The demand has sparked a war of words with the doctors’ union which has advised its members to ignore the plea to go back to work at Sandwell Hospital.

Hospital chiefs claimed an unprecedented rise in the number of patients at the hospital had forced them to declare a Level 4 major incident during the 24-hour walkout today.

However the doctors’ union the British Medical Association (BMA) accused hospitals of “moving the goalposts” by declaring spurious incidents to force striking medics back into their posts.

Legal advice is being to staff given by the union, which is telling doctors to only return to the wards if a full agreed “escalation” process has been followed.

The strike at Sandwell Hospital Credit: BPM Media

Junior doctors should continue with industrial action until NHS England has confirmed, and the BMA has agreed - via the agreed escalation process - that a major unpredictable incident is taking place for a specific trust.

The BMA will notify members as soon as such an incident is in place.

– A spokesman for the BMA

BMA chiefs previously claimed that hospitals would “move” the goalposts by declaring emergencies to force doctors off the picket lines.

Doctors on a Facebook forum voiced their fury at the announcement, claiming it could be against NHS rules.

One slammed the decision to declare a high-level incident, writing: “Ongoing high capacity usually represents the lowest category of major incident - an internal one. It should mean most to all elective operations including day cases are cancelled.”

The strike at Sandwell Hospital Credit: BPM Media

Over the last two days we have had very high numbers of patients come to hospital, and fewer than usual discharged.

Because of that we decided to require trainee doctors allocated to ward work to attend Sandwell during today’s strike.

Staff taking action at [nearby hospital] City are unaffected.

We would like to thank local doctors’ representatives for their constructive support and advice.

– Dr Roger Stedman, medical director at Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust

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