AUDIO: Doctors down tools again

AUDIO: Doctors down tools again

Published at 6:01am 26th April 2016. (Updated at 2:15pm 26th April 2016)

Junior doctors across Harrogate, Craven and Wharfedale are taking part in the first all-out strike in NHS history.

The walk out, which started this morning at 8am and will run until 5pm today and tomorrow, includes refusing to provide emergency care in A&E departments.

Cover is being provided by senior staff, but units are likely to be busy.

This latest industrial action is part of a long-running and increasingly bitter row with the Government over plans to introduce a new contract.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt says the changes are necessary to deliver a truly seven-day NHS, but junior doctors say resources are being stretched too thinly.

They are worried about being under pressure to work longer hours and risking patient safety.

Hospital bosses say there are "robust" plans in place to cope with the disruption caused by the strike.

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Doctors outside Harrogate District Hospital spell out their opposition to the Health Secretary

Speaking ahead of the strike, Robert Harrison, Chief Operating Officer at Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust, said: "Patients in need of urgent and emergency care will continue to receive the treatment they need, when they need it. However, due to increased pressures on services over this period, those in less urgent need of care may experience longer waiting times than normal. In all cases, priority will be given to those patients with the most pressing health needs.

"Unfortunately, we have had to postpone 262 outpatient appointments and 29 elective operations. We are directly contacting those patients affected. This is being done so we can make sure we can robustly provide care for those patients who urgently need it.

"Our advice is that patients should attend their appointment if they have one, unless contacted otherwise. We are working hard to reschedule patients affected for as soon as possible.

"People are also reminded of the other healthcare options available instead of calling 999 - such as visiting their pharmacist, calling NHS 111 or using NHS Choices."

A tweet shows the scene outside Airedale General Hospital:

Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust has cancelled all training, education and meetings for consultants and other key clinical staff to ensure that they are available to provide cover.

David Berridge, Medical Director (Operations), said: "We have robust plans in place and all emergency, planned cancer and urgent elective procedures will continue as planned and we have the appropriate resources in place to ensure this can happen safely.

"For patients expecting to come in over the two-day period, please attend as normal, unless you have had a letter or phone call from us advising your procedure has had to be postponed."

There is more advice for patients at www.nhs.uk/strike