As NHS consultants in England begin their second walkout in the latest round of industrial action in their dispute over pay, Danny Mortimer, deputy chief executive of NHS Confederation, said:
“As NHS consultants start their second walkout – the 10th round of large-scale strikes by NHS staff in nine months – weary healthcare leaders and teams will be wondering how many more rounds of industrial action the NHS must endure, and how many more patients will have to suffer before all those involved find a way to finally bring this to a close.
“Unfortunately, handling strikes has had to become routine for leaders, with many telling us they’re spending up to a third of their time planning for and dealing with the fallout of repeated walkouts.
“While the work they’ve done has minimised disruption, they nonetheless see and fear the impact it is having on patients and staff alike.
“With strike action backing onto a bank holiday weekend, this round will again have a significant impact on patients. Demand at A&E departments is usually higher on bank holiday weekends, but this combined with operating a Christmas Day level of service in the runup, means that increased pressures will in many places mean patients will be faced with severe delays.
“Healthcare leaders are sympathetic to the concerns of senior medical staff regarding reform of their contract, but also know that this war of attrition with the government is eroding hopes of reducing the backlog and affecting patient care.
“It’s too late to stop this walkout, but the failure to put an end to this situation has put the Prime Minister’s pledge to reduce waiting lists in real jeopardy; another round of industrial action after this one may deliver a knockout blow to backlog hopes.
“All sides must do whatever it takes to avert the further walkout planned by consultants for September and prevent the NHS from reaching the grim milestone of one million cancelled operations.”