Hospital chiefs in Oxfordshire have made plans in case of junior doctors’ strike

MHBG-18-07-11 Horton Hospital GV ENGNNL00120110816170621
MHBG-18-07-11 Horton Hospital GV ENGNNL00120110816170621

Hospital chiefs are making arrangements for cover if junior doctors strike next week.

They voted to strike after the government imposed a contract obliging them to work longer hours, which they say is unsafe for patients.

Paul Brennan, of Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “We are working closely with all staff, including junior doctors, to ensure services continue to be safe.

“All urgent and emergency provision (which includes maternity, oncology, renal dialysis and trauma) will continue as usual. Outpatient appointments and non-urgent elective operations are being rescheduled. Patients will be contacted and offered an alternative appointment.”

Most politicians in north Oxfordshire support the doctors. Banbury MP Victoria Prentis said: “Junior doctors play a vital role in our NHS. I understand their frustration about contract negotiations and recognise they would only vote to strike as an absolute last resort. However, I am acutely aware of the disruption industrial action causes. I really hope that the BMA will re-enter negotiations so that a sensible solution can be found and strikes can be avoided.”

The Greens’ John Haywood said: “It’s the government’s insistence on imposing the contract that is unsafe. Death rates rise at weekends because of the lack of consultants, not as a result of fewer junior doctors.”

Oncologist Dr Clive Peedell of the National Health Action Party (NHA) said: “The NHA fully supports junior doctors. The proposed contract is unfair and unsafe. It will lead to an exodus of junior doctors, which would be catastrophic and badly affect patient care. Consultants, nurses and other staff will ensure emergency cover is provided.”

Sean Woocock of Labour said: “Junior doctors have been driven to strike by the intransigence and duplicitousness of the Health Secretary.

“I hope an agreement can be reached. Patients will be affected and this will lose the junior doctors public support. This can only strengthen the hand of government who will seek to impose the contract.”

Lib-Dem John Howson said: “It is essential they avoid strike action. The Chancellor must address long term financial challenges in the NHS to alleviate staff pressure and improve patient safety.”