Posted: Fri 12th Jan 2024

Patient safety will be protected during 3 day junior doctors strike, says Health Minister

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Friday, Jan 12th, 2024

NHS Wales, the BMA and the Welsh Government are working together to ensure patient safety is protected during next week’s junior doctors’ strike, Health Minister Eluned Morgan has said.

Junior doctors will take strike action for three days, starting on Monday 15 January, with the impact on services expected to be significant.

The Health Minister has reassured people that urgent and life-threatening care will continue to be provided during this period.

She has also urged everyone to help reduce the burden on the NHS by using other healthcare services, instead of going to hospital, unless they need urgent care.

The move towards strike action was sparked by a pay offer of 5%, which was deemed insufficient by the committee, especially considering the recommendations of the DDRB (Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration review body).

A significant 98% of voting junior doctors supported the strike, reflecting widespread dissatisfaction with current pay conditions.

Over 3,000 doctors could withdraw their labour from hospitals and GP surgeries across Wales, marking this as one of the most substantial disruptions to NHS services in recent times.

Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board, in response to the impending strike, has issued a statement on its website, urging patients to be aware of the potential impacts on hospital services.

The Health Board’s statement noted, “We are currently working hard with our staff to keep patients safe during planned strikes while delivering the best care possible. This does, however, mean that some planned care appointments will need to be rearranged.”

Patients with scheduled appointments are advised to attend unless they are contacted directly about a change.

During this period, the Health Board recommends those needing care or support to visit the NHS 111 Wales website as a first point of call, which may direct them to self-care at home, pharmacy visits, GP appointments, or, in severe cases, the hospital Emergency Department.

The Welsh Government has commented on the situation, assuring the public that patient safety will be a priority during the strike action.

Health Minister Eluned Morgan stated, “We are disappointed junior doctors have voted for industrial action, but we understand the strength of feeling among BMA members. We continue to press the UK Government to provide the necessary funding for fair pay rises for public sector workers.”

Ms Morgan also highlighted the financial challenges faced by the Welsh Government, pointing to a reduction in real-term budget due to inflation. “Our budget in 2024-25 would be £3bn higher if it had grown in line with the economy since 2010,” she said, emphasising the fiscal constraints impacting public sector pay.

The Health Minister reiterated the commitment to working with the British Medical Association and NHS Employers, focusing on ensuring patient safety during the industrial action. “Non-emergency and elective activities will be scaled back, resembling services generally provided on a bank holiday,” Ms Morgan added.

She urged the public to consider the best healthcare options during this period, including using online or phone services like 111, or visiting local pharmacies.


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