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NHS contingency plans put in place ahead of the junior doctors' strike

NHS England has contacted all trusts boards to ensure they have contingency plans in place ahead of the start of the junior doctors all-out strike tomorrow.

The escalation of the dispute over the new contract will see unprecedented withdrawal of all care by junior doctors between 8am and 5pm tomorrow (Tuesday 26 April) and Wednesday (27 April).

Arrangements for recalling doctors from the picket line in an emergency have also been agreed with the British Medical Association (BMA).

If there is a major incident or an “exceptional and sustained” deterioration in performance which cannot be handled by a hospital's senior doctor and juniors providing emergency care a trust should contact NHS England.

It will contact the BMA's co-ordination room to request junior doctors return to work in an emergency.

NHS England said across the country GPs are offering extra appointments or availability and extra primary care in its list of extra cover this week.

Individual practices are deciding what extra resources to provide during the strike.

NHS 111 has increased its call handling capacity over the next two days.

Ambulance trusts has also been asked to produce extra support, such as temporary treatment centres.

Other measures include more support for discharge from hospital and increased liaison with social services and care homes ahead of the strike. During Tuesday and Wednesday evenings

NHS England said trusts are expecting to postpone 12,711 elective operations and 112,856 outpatients appointments between 18 April and 2 May.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt rejected a last-minute cross party proposal to pilot the new contract.

He called it “opportunism” and said “any further delay just means we will take longer to eliminate the weekend effect.”

He wrote to the BMA's council chairman Dr Mark Porter yesterday asking him to avert the strike.

He said the latest action: “seriously risks the safety of many patients who depend on the NHS.”

The heads of 14 Royal Medical Colleges have written to Prime Minister David Cameron today to urge him to intervene and get both sides back at the negotiating table to “end this damaging stand-off”.

Meanwhile junior doctor Ben White announced on ITV's Good Morning Britain he plans to resign to fight a legal challenge to the contract.