NHS Medical Director Dr Paula Cowan spoke to Granada Reports presenter Lucy Meacock
An NHS medical director says that those who have their appointments and routine surgery cancelled by strike action will be "prioritised".
Planned care is likely to come to a halt with thousands of appointments cancelled, as the row with the government over pay and working conditions continues.
Consultants will walk out for 48 hours from Tuesday 19 September, and will be joined by their junior colleagues on Wednesday. Junior doctors will then continue their strike on Thursday and Friday.
It's the first time such joint strike action has happened in NHS history. It is now the tenth month of strike action across the NHS.
It's estimated that industrial action has impacted approximately 885,154 hospital appointments across the health service.
Dr Paula Cowan, Medical Director for Primary Care, NHS North West said: "I think mainly on Wednesday when we have an overlap of both it will have a very serious effect on our healthcare system.
“Patients who have an appointment this week, if they haven’t been contacted, they should attend as they normally would. Emergency services will continue during this time.
“Those who had their appointments cancelled during industrial action will be prioritised and seen as soon as possible.
“Our hospital trusts are working very hard to ensure they are prioritised. The backlog is growing. This is having an impact and we can’t shy away from that."
Staff are expected to work on a “Christmas Day cover” basis for both spells of industrial action, meaning emergency care will continue to be provided.
People should still call 999 and use A&E as normal in emergency situations.
Speaking about those who may have a medical emergency during strike action, Dr Cowan said: “We are and will continue to be open for business.”
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “These co-ordinated strikes will pose a huge challenge for the NHS and for patients, who will see their care significantly disrupted.”
Health Secretary Steve Barclay was open to discussions about the “non-pay elements” of the British Medical Association’s concerns but there were no plans to “revisit” the pay deal, the spokesman said.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We’ve already seen 900,000 appointments cancelled as a result of strikes and the co-ordinated action next week will create further disruption for patients and fellow NHS staff.
“We accepted the independent pay review body’s recommendations in full, meaning doctors who started their hospital training this year are receiving a 10.3% pay increase, with the average junior doctor getting 8.8%. Consultants are receiving a 6% pay rise and are already in the top 2% of earners in the country.
“This pay award is final and the Health and Social Care Secretary is clear his door is open to discuss non pay issues if the BMA call an end to this damaging disruption.”
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