Health secretary Jeremy Hunt (pictured) said today’s junior doctors’ strike represented a “very, very bleak day for the NHS” while the doctors leader said they had no choice but to stage an all-out strike.
Hunt said that 12,500 operations and 110,000 outpatients appointments have been cancelled across England because of the unprecedented all-out strike by junior doctors.
Adding that some GP practices were offering extra appointments and other primary care providers had been asked to extend their opening hours today and tomorrow.
He wrote a second letter yesterday (Monday 25 April) to the British Medical Association’s (BMA) boss Dr Mark Porter offering to meet. He said it was “unreasonable” to ask for the contract to be dropped as the government had already made concessions.
Patients appear to have heeded advice to use alternative services, such as walk-in centres, 111 Direct, and primary care rather than A&E if possible.
Dr Johann Malawana, the chairman of the junior doctors committee which has held negotiations over the new contract said: “Today is an incredibly sad day for doctors, and the rest of society.
“These two days of industrial action mark one of the lowest points in the wonderful history of the NHS.”
However he said as Hunt had rejected the BMA’s offer to call off the strike if he lifted the imposition of the contract in August the escalation was “unavoidable”.
An IPSOS Mori poll for the BBC said 57% of people supported the strike, an increase of 13% since January. However 18% strongly opposed the walkout.
Junior doctors took to the picket lines at hospitals throughout England from 8am until 5pm. Their all-out strike is due to resume at 8am tomorrow.
The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgowcontacted Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon with concerns that the dispute was causing uncertainty in the NHS throughout the UK.
Sturgeon wrote to Prime Minster David Cameron calling on him to lift the imposition of the contract.
Downing Street’s official spokeswoman said the Prime Minister was being updated throughout the day and “we have done all we could to avoid these strikes.”