'Significant challenges' expected as junior doctors take industrial action

Health leaders in Wigan and across the North West are expecting “significant challenges” as junior doctors stage a 72-hour walkout.
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Junior doctors at all NHS hospitals across Greater Manchester – including Wigan’s hospitals – are planning to strike from 6.59am on Wednesday until 7am on Saturday in an ongoing dispute with the Government over pay.

It comes as new data showed A&Es across the country experienced the busiest May on record.

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NHS bosses prepare for junior doctors to walk out of hospitals for 72-hour strik...
Flags and placards were waved by junior doctors on the picket line outside Wigan Infirmary earlier this yearFlags and placards were waved by junior doctors on the picket line outside Wigan Infirmary earlier this year
Flags and placards were waved by junior doctors on the picket line outside Wigan Infirmary earlier this year
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Dr Paula Cowan, regional director for primary care across the North West, said: “The junior doctors’ industrial action will create significant challenges for the NHS and it is vital the public are aware of the pressure the health service will be under and know the best way to access care during that time.

“The impact of previous industrial action was significant. Junior doctors work in all areas of hospital services as well as primary care services.

“We are now entering the seventh month of industrial action across the NHS and this has a cumulative impact on staff who have gone above and beyond to maintain safe patient services during a challenging period.”

She said the public’s support during previous periods of industrial action had been “invaluable” and she urged people to use NHS services appropriately.

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It echoed the message from Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s medical director Prof Sanjay Arya, who said staff would be focusing on “maintaining, life, limb and sight-saving services, as well as elective services for our patients who are most in need”.

“Urgent and emergency care services will be open during the industrial action period and people should call 999 or attend accident and emergency services in the event of a life or limb-threatening emergency,” Dr Cowan added.

“Regardless of any strike action taking place, it is really important that patients who need urgent medical care continue to come forward as normal, especially in emergency and life-threatening cases – when someone is seriously ill or injured, or their life is at risk.”

Regional medical director Dr Michael Gregory added that if anyone needs medical help or advice, or are unsure about whether they should go to hospital, support is available at NHS 111 online.

He said: “During the period of the industrial action, it is more important than ever that the public know to make NHS 111 Online their first port of call for non-emergency health needs.

“During strike action we will prioritise resources to protect emergency treatment, critical care, neonatal care and trauma, and ensure we prioritise patients who have waited the longest for elective care and cancer surgery. We will only cancel appointments and procedures where it is necessary and will reschedule immediately, where possible.

“The NHS is continuing to deliver planned care where possible, especially for patients in greatest clinical need, and we would urge the public to please attend your appointment as planned. The NHS will contact you if your appointment needs to be rescheduled due to strike action.”

People are being encouraged to support friends or relatives due to be discharged from hospital, so beds can be freed up for other patients.