The NHS Confederation is warning that next week’s triple walk out of junior doctors, consultants and radiographers will jeopardise patient care, harm efforts to bring down waiting lists and add to the spiralling costs of the dispute which is now estimated to be well over £1 billion.
Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation said:
“Next week will see a further escalation of strike action in the NHS. The triple walk out will jeopardise patient care, particularly for people with cancer. It will mean thousands of patients won’t get the scans and x-rays they need, causing unnecessary stress and worry for those patients.
“We are now in a dangerous deadlock with patients paying the ultimate price. The level of disruption caused by this latest round of strikes will be greater than what we have seen before. But here we are seven months on from the start of the doctors’ strikes and we are as far away as ever when it comes to finding a solution.
“Cancelled operations and appointments are already over 1 million and rising and many patients are having their procedures cancelled multiple times. Many of these patients are prevented from getting back to work which is bad for them and the wider economy. We know that this is just the tip of the iceberg given that hospitals and other providers now often don’t schedule in appointments on strike days.
“The costs are becoming a huge concern for NHS leaders, with more than £1 billion of scarce resources having to be spent on re-booking appointments and bringing in costly cover for those staff who are on strike. This bill ultimately affects patient care and will come at a cost to the public.
“This impasse therefore cannot be allowed to roll on as business as usual into the extremely busy winter period. We know that cancelled procedures are having a domino effect on elective waiting lists and the Prime Minister’s target to reduce lists will be at risk if industrial action continues unabated. As we move towards winter, we expect further pressure on local health services, with many systems already reporting that they are under the highest level of stress, demand and pressure.
“Something desperately needs to change to move this dispute forwards. We urge the government and the BMA to get back round the table before it’s too late for the service and the people they care for.”