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DOCTORS STRIKE: Contingency plans to ensure patient safety

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Hospitals across the country had emergency meeting with senior doctors to chalk out contingency plans to ensure patient safety during the junior doctors’ strike on December 1….reports Asian Lite News

NHS Hospital98% of the junior doctors voted to go on all-out strike for the first time on December 1 over the government’s decision to dilute their payments and adding more to work pressure as part of the 7-Day NHS promise.

Senior doctors like consultants and registrars will step into manage the rota to avert crisis at the hospital wards.

Meanwhile, a report in British Medical Journal says that patient fatalities are unlikely to increase due to the strike. The reports based on a study by Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital shows that in high-income countries, “patients do not come to serious harm during industrial action provided that provisions are made for emergency care.”

Countering concerns that patients may be put at risk by the walkout, the BMJ article reports that during previous doctor strikes, death rates remained the same, or decreased in developed countries.
The Journal article notes that the continued provision of emergency care likely ensures no change in death rates during industrial action. In the cases where mortality rates dropped, the article speculates this could have been due to non-urgent surgery being cancelled, or that doctors tend to be better rested during strike periods.

In another development, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has been accused of “political game playing” by taking so long to agree to negotiations with junior doctors. The Department of Health announced on Tuesday it had agreed to talks with the British Medical Association, which represents those about to strike, at ACAS conciliation services.

BMA chairman Dr Mark Porter welcomed this but added: “Junior doctors and the public, who by now will be used to Jeremy Hunt’s political game playing, will not be surprised by the fact that he has waited until now to do the right thing.”

Hunt wrote to Dr Porter saying the “extreme” strike action “poses a serious threat” to patient safety.

Hunt wrote a negotiated solution “has been my objective from the outset”, adding he was disappointed the BMA had refused an alternative offer the government put forward.
“It is clear that any talks are better than strikes,” he added.

“Given we will shortly be commencing with ACAS our first negotiations in over a year, I would also urge you to think again about whether extreme strike action in the NHS’ busiest period – which will at best disrupt patient care and at worst cause serious harm to patients – is appropriate or necessary.

“I believe it’s time to work together to improve weekend care – as promised to the British people in our election manifesto – and avoid harming vulnerable patients by postponing your planned action and resolving our difference through talks not strikes.”

In response, Dr Porter said: “It is encouraging that Jeremy Hunt has made a significant shift in accepting the BMA’s offer of conciliatory talks through Acas, finally recognising the fact that trust has broken down between junior doctors and the government.”

He added: “We hope to start these talks as soon as possible in order to reach a collaborative agreement for the benefit of patients and the NHS. Importantly, Jeremy Hunt must finally remove his threat of imposition in order to defer Tuesday’s industrial action.”

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