Hospitals across South Yorkshire are offering reduced services today as junior doctors go on strike for the second time since the start of the year in a row over new contracts.
The strike has meant around 120 non-urgent procedures have been cancelled at Sheffield hospitals.
Tina Thekkekara, aged 36, a junior doctor working in paediatrics at Sheffield Children’s Hospital since 2007 who was at the hospital’s picket line today, said: “Our strike is for the NHS.
“Under the new contract, the NHS will collapse because the junior doctors will not survive it. We are already so stretched.
“The government needs to think of what is in the best interest for patients and propose a new contract that listens to us.
“We are already running short of doctors and the only thing these changes are going to achieve is make the NHS go private.”
Patients in Sheffield have been warned to expect longer waiting times than normal at the Northern General and the Royal Hallamshire as junior doctors – all below consultant level – gather outside hospitals and provide emergency care only until 8am tomorrow.
Freya Ackroyd-Parkin, 25, a junior doctor working in the Sheffield Kidney Institute in the Northern General Hospital who was on the picket line outside the Royal Hallamshire Hospital, said: “Striking is our last resource since the government aren’t listening to our concerns that the new contract it is not safe for doctors or for patients.
“The new contract will mean we will be really tired, which is not fair for our patients. I wouldn’t want any of my relatives to be seen by someone who is tired because everyone makes mistakes then.”
Dan Baynes, 26, a junior doctor working in critical care at the Northern General who was at the picket line outside the Hallamshire, said: “I feel the patients I have spoken are really nice, supportive and encouraging.
“We are worried the plans the government are proposing are going to be harmful for them.”
Kirsten Major, director of strategy and operations at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “Our first priority is patient care and we have been working with junior doctors and our clinical teams to ensure urgent and emergency care is not affected during this period of industrial action.
“With regard to non-urgent services, we have put in plans to limit the disruption to operations and appointments as much as possible, and where we have had to postpone we have contacted patients directly to rearrange their appointment or treatment as quickly as possible. We have postponed around 120 non-urgent procedures.”
Today’s industrial action follows the failure to reach an agreement between the British Medical Association, NHS Employers and the Department of Health over the shape of the new contract that all juniors in England will operate under from August.
BMA junior doctors leader,Dr Johann Malawana has accused the government of blocking a deal. He tweeted: “We presented a fully costed and working solution that was rejected due to pride and politics.”
The major sticking point in the dispute is over weekend pay and whether Saturday should be largely classed as a normal working day.
Currently, 7pm to 7am Monday to Friday and the whole of Saturday and Sunday attract a premium rate of pay for junior doctors.
A poll has found that two-thirds of adults in England support the strike. The survey of more than 800 people, conducted by Ipsos Mori and the Health Service Journal, found that 66 per cent supported the action, while 64 per cent said the Government was more at fault for the dispute continuing this long and 13 per cent said the blame lies with junior doctors. Nearly a fifth (18%) believed both sides were equally at fault.
A demonstration in support of junior doctors was taking place at 1pm today outside Weston Park Museum in Sheffield.