Whittington Hospital junior doctors join national strike

Junior doctors striking outside the Whittington Hospital this morning. Picture: Ken Mears

Junior doctors striking outside the Whittington Hospital this morning. Picture: Ken Mears - Credit: Archant

Junior doctors at Whittington Hospital were today among the thousands on strike in a row with the Government over a new contract.

More than 5,000 operations and procedures across England have been cancelled ahead of the 48-hour strike, which began at 8am.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has announced he will impose the contract on junior doctors (everyone up to consultant level) after months of talks with the British Medical Association (BMA) failed to reach a resolution.

The contract would see Saturday day shifts paid at a normal rate - it’s currently at a premium - in return for a hike in basic pay.

Junior doctors will provide emergency care only today and tomorrow, with two further 48-hour strikes planned from 8am on April 8 and April 26.

The third strike by the BMA comes as an Ipsos MORI poll for BBC News found 65 pc of members of the public support the doctors’ cause.

The survey found most people still think the Government is most at fault for the dispute, but a rising number believe equal blame should be shared by the Government and doctors’ leaders.

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Dr Anne Rainsberry, national incident director for NHS England, said: “This is clearly going to be a difficult couple of days. A 48-hour strike will put significantly more pressure on the NHS and the cumulative effect of these recurring strikes is likely to take a toll.

“The safety and care of patients is always our number one priority and staff across the NHS are doing all they can to minimise the impact on patients of the action.”

Where possible, patients are being asked to contact their GP, seek advice from their local pharmacist, call 111 or check the NHS Choices website.

In an emergency, people should still call 999 or go to A&E.