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More than 175,000 appointments and procedures postponed in junior doctor strike

More than 175,000 appointments and procedures had to be postponed during the three-day junior doctors’ strike.

The postponements, revealed in data published by NHS England, had to be made to protect emergency, critical and urgent care for patients.

NHS medical director Professor Sir Stephen Powis said the strike has been on “an unprecedented scale and had a greater impact than all the other industrial action we have seen so far this winter combined”.

Leaders of junior doctors are to meet Health Secretary Steve Barclay next week to try and help resolve their pay dispute, which led the walkout.

Sir Stephen said: “Despite the huge efforts that NHS staff made to keep patients safe and minimise disruption, this strike was on an unprecedented scale and had a greater impact than all the other industrial action we have seen so far this winter combined.

Industrial strike
Striking NHS junior doctors on the picket line outside Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital in Norwich (Joe Giddens/PA)

“Over 175,000 appointments and procedures were rescheduled to protect emergency, critical and urgent care for patients, which will inevitably impact on efforts to tackle the Covid backlog.”

The British Medical Association has exchanged letters with the Government following yesterday’s announcement of a new offer to other NHS workers.

The union is demanding “pay restoration” for junior doctors, who can have many years’ experience and make up about 45% of the medical workforce.

It says their pay has fallen in real terms by 26% since 2008/09 and reversing this would require a 35.3% pay rise.

Dr Vivek Trivedi and Dr Robert Laurenson, the co-chairs of the BMA junior doctors committee, said in a joint statement: “Every day junior doctors despair as they see operations cancelled and treatment postponed for the millions on the waiting lists because our health services are in crisis.

“But rescheduling appointments as a result of the strike action could have been avoided if the Health Secretary had come to the table and negotiated an agreed settlement with us before any strike action was taken.

“The NHS had more than two months’ notice that we would strike for 72 hours if the ballot was successful; the Government has been in no doubt about our campaign for full pay restoration for over six months and this has been borne out by the number of junior doctors in England who have taken part in the industrial action.”

They described junior doctors as being “keen to see their pay restored and to  avoid further disruption to patient care”, adding that Mr Barclay has it “within his gift to offer a deal so junior doctors can earn what they are worth, avoid further strike action and give patients the care they deserve”.

Mr Barclay has called on junior doctors to follow the example of other health unions, who on Thursday said they will recommend a pay deal to NHS staff including nurses and ambulance workers.

He said: “We have offered the same terms to the junior doctors that were accepted by the other trade unions and that is what I hope the junior doctors will respond to.”