Last minute attempts to end the planned two-day strike by junior doctors in England on 26 and 27 April 2016 – which includes the removal of hospital emergency cover – looked likely to fail on the eve of the industrial action.
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt wrote to the British Medical Association (BMA) on 24 April 2016 calling for talks to resume and for the strike action to be called off. But the BMA said it would only cooperate if the government withdrew its plans to impose the junior doctors’ contract from this August.
A spokesperson for the BMA said on 25 April 2016: “We have made it very clear that we are prepared to return to talks if the imposition is lifted. We hope the government will come to its senses.”
The strike may put added pressure on community pharmacy services: the NHS Choices website is recommending patients with long-term conditions or parents of unwell young children consider seeking advice from their local pharmacy rather than their GP where services are also likely to be over-stretched during the 48-hour walk out.
Vilma Gilis, president of the Guild of Healthcare Pharmacists, says it is difficult to know in advance what the impact of the strike will be. “Consultants will be covering to make sure patients get the best care possible,” she says. “It is appropriate that the public should be encouraged to not put added pressure on A&E services and to seek advice from their community pharmacist for minor ailments but this is something that they should be doing anyway.”
NHS England says that all trusts have plans in place to cope with the impact of the strike and are focusing their attention on emergency care, maternity services, resuscitation teams, mental health crisis intervention teams and major incident plans. It has also arranged for more GP appointments to be made available and NHS 111 will have more call handlers on duty. It is also possible that ambulance trusts may be called on to provide extra treatment centres if necessary, it said.