East London’s junior doctors and consultants set to strike again next week

Another round of strikes will hit East London’s health services next week, reports Josh Mellor, Local Democracy Reporter

East London NHS staff strike outside Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel on 20th September, Credit: LDRS

Junior doctors and consultants in East London hospitals will only provide “Christmas Day” levels of cover between 7am Monday 2nd October and 7am Thursday 5th October, amid more strike action over pay and staffing conditions.

This means hospital emergency services will still be staffed but other wards are likely to have the “lowest safe level of staffing”.

The British Medical Association (BMA), which has organised the strike action, says both types of doctors striking is part of its “escalation strategy” in a campaign to see pay restored to 2008/9 levels.

Last week’s strikes saw junior doctors and consultants strike on the same day for the first time.

The NHS advises that east Londoners with life-threatening health issues are advised to call 999 as usual, while those with non-urgent conditions should consult a pharmacist, GP or call 111.

Matthew Trainer, chief executive of BHRUT, which runs Queen’s Hospital in Romford and King George Hospital in Goodmayes, has warned of the strain strikes have put on health services this year.

In a statement yesterday (28th September), Trainer said: “The ongoing strikes are costing us millions of pounds, damaging morale, and leading to longer waits for treatment. Our doctors feel their skills, hard work and dedication aren’t valued.

“I am particularly worried about our junior doctors. They are our future consultants, medical directors and CEOs. They believe they are not being treated with respect. 

“We need meaningful negotiations and a settlement. An imposed pay award and repeated strike action isn’t tenable as the NHS heads into winter. We can’t run our hospitals like this.”

BHRUT says it has had to rearrange 351 outpatient appointments and 21 non-urgent surgeries.

Previous strikes caused 11,531 rearranged outpatient appointments and 958 non-urgent surgeries, with an estimated cost of £5.9million.

Barts Health – which runs accident and emergency services at Whipps Cross Hospital, The Royal London and Newham University Hospital – will also be affected by the strikes.

This story is published by Waltham Forest Echo, Waltham Forest's free monthly newspaper and free news website. We are a not-for-profit publication, published by a small social enterprise. We have no rich backers and rely on the support of our readers. Donate or become a supporter.

A spokesperson for Barts Health has confirmed that it will continue to provide maternity, urgent and emergency care, but that those with less urgent health needs “may experience longer waiting times”.

They added: “If there are changes to an appointment that you have arranged at our hospitals during the strike period, we will contact you. If you do not hear from us, please attend your appointment as normal.”

NHS leaders in East London have said they expect the strikes to continue in the coming months.

Earlier this week, Health Secretary Steve Barclay told the BBC patients who are “shouldering the brunt of the BMA’s relentless strike action”.

He added: “My door is always open to discuss how we can work together with NHS staff to improve their working lives, but this pay award is final, so I urge the BMA to call an end to this callous and calculated disruption.”

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service at a picket line outside The Royal London Hospital last week, a consultant criticised the government for “refusing” to talk to doctors about pay.

Dr Simon Walsh, a Barts Health consultant in emergency medicine and deputy chair of the British Medical Association’s UK consultants committee, said: “Concerns around pay are directly related to the retnetion of doctors in the NHS and are impacting on the ability for doctors to provide patients with the service they need.

“East London, like many parts of the country, has difficulty retaining the most valuable staff.

“We’re talking about people who have gone through years and years of training, people who completed a degree and we are increasingly finding that consultants are leaving the NHS and going abroad on the global market where pay and conditions are much more favourable than on the NHS.”

“At the moment the government’s only response to that is to bring in more people as medical students, but if you got a leaky bucket on the way to fix that is to fix the leak, rather than pouring more water in.”

Dr Walsh apologised for any delays patients are seeing to their care due to strikes, but said there is already a “strong link” between doctors leaving the NHS and “record waiting lists”.

He added: “Having too few doctors means it’s much more difficult to do the job.

“There’s more stress, burnout and sickness and people are leaving the NHS because they are unable to sustain it.”

If you have been affected by the health strikes, contact [email protected]

No news is bad news 

Independent news outlets like ours – reporting for the community without rich backers – are under threat of closure, turning British towns into news deserts. 

The audiences they serve know less, understand less, and can do less. 

In celebration of Indie News Week, Public Interest News Foundation's Indie News Fund will match fund all donations, including new annual supporter subscriptions for the month of June.

If our coverage has helped you understand our community a little bit better, please consider supporting us with a monthly, yearly or one-off donation. 

Choose the news. Don’t lose the news.

Monthly direct debit 

Annual direct debit

£5 per month supporters get a digital copy of each month’s paper before anyone else, £10 per month supporters get a digital copy of each month’s paper before anyone else and a print copy posted to them each month.  £50 annual supporters get a digital copy of each month's paper before anyone else.

Donate now with Pay Pal

More information on supporting us monthly or annually 

More Information about donations