Hospitals coped well with doctors strike, say bosses

Junior doctors during a strike, based on Wigan Lane, across from Wigan Hospital, part of a national strike of junior doctors
Junior doctors during a strike, based on Wigan Lane, across from Wigan Hospital, part of a national strike of junior doctors

HEALTH chiefs said the borough’s hospitals coped well during the junior doctors’ strike earlier this week.

Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh (WWL) NHS Foundation Trust continued to provide high-quality and safe services during the 24 hours of industrial action, bosses have said.

Junior doctors formed a picket line outside Wigan Infirmary as they joined colleagues across the country in protesting against new contracts being imposed by the Department of Health.

WWL said its contingency plans worked well throughout the strike on Tuesday, with services continuing to be provided to patients at the expected level.

At least eight operations were cancelled but the schedule was already lighter than usual as the walk-out coincided with an audit day and some patients had appointments rearranged in advance.

The Trust said it was sorry if any residents felt they had been inconvenienced.

A WWL spokesman said: “We would like to thank everyone who has worked hard to make sure our services involving emergency and critical care were not affected.

“In anticipation of the industrial action we were able contact patients directly if their care had to be postponed or rescheduled as a result. We apologise for any inconvenience or upset this caused to our patients.

“A committed group of staff formed a substantial picket line opposite the main gates to the Wigan hospital site throughout the day. There was a huge amount of support shown for the junior doctors by the public who sounding their horns as they passed the picket line.”

A poll released by Ipsos Mori on Tuesday suggested the industrial action was backed by 66 per cent of the public as long as emergency care cover was provided.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt criticised the strike as unnecessary and said the new modernised junior doctor contracts would make the health system safer for patients and better for doctors.

The next walk-out is planned to last for 48 hours beginning on January 26 and the Trust reassured Wiganers plans were being drawn up to deal with this.

The WWL spokesman said: “Should the ongoing negotiations fail to prevent this period of action, we will continue to plan and respond accordingly to maintain our high levels of patient care.”

The Government has reacted to the ongoing dispute by bringing in the chief executive of Salford Royal Hospital, David Dalton, to act as its chief negotiator.

The British Medical Association (BMA) says the new contracts will lead to doctors working excessive hours, potentially putting patient safety at risk, with standard shifts being extended to cover 7am until 10pm from Monday to Saturday.

The BMA also contests the Government’s view that an 11 per cent pay rise will compensate for reduced overtime.