THE chairman of the board at Dudley’s hospital trust said the government needs to get its “finger out” and help bring the strikes by junior doctors and consultants to an end before the difficult winter period.

Sir David Nicholson, chairman of the board at the Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust, was speaking at the trust’s annual members meeting when asked about how many Dudley Group junior doctors and consultants had withdrawn their labour as both sets of NHS workers who are members of the British Medical Association went on strike simultaneously last week.

Consultants walked out on September 19 and 20, while junior doctors staged industrial action from 7am on Wednesday September 20 to 7am on Saturday September 23.

Trust bosses said they could not confirm numbers but figures from NHS England, published on September 25, show at the height of the strike a total of 160 Dudley Group staff were absent due to industrial action from 7am on September 20 to the following morning.

A total of 982 outpatient appointments scheduled for September 19 and 20 had to be rescheduled along with more than 106 elective procedures.

More than 200 outpatient appointments and 65 elected procedures scheduled for September 21 and 22 also had to be rescheduled.

The trust’s chief operating officer Karen Kelly said there were no issues during the strike as all rotas were filled “to give the minimum amount of cover to keep our patients safe” and she added: “That means anybody who requires emergency care and ongoing treatment does receive those reviews from our medical staff who turn into work during the strike action.”

The trust’s medical director Julian Hobbs said technology had enabled medics to track sick patients within the organisation during the strike and he stressed: “We know the patients are being escalated and identified at the same rate as normal.

“We’ve been tracking our mortality – cardiac arrests and emergency calls to patients that are deteriorating, we’ve seen no deterioration at all during the period of the strike – either during junior doctor strikes or consultant strikes – and I hope that provides appropriate assurance.”

Sir David Nicholson praised the work of the team at the trust but he hit out at the strikes organised by the BMA to call for improved pay and conditions for its members.

He added: “This has gone on for far too long.

“The team do everything they can to protect and support the services for our patients, but we have to cancel people and they’re not treated. It’s really, in my view, about time this government got its finger out and sorted this issue out.

“As we go into the winter it’s going to be increasingly difficult for our patients and the other staff.”

Both consultants and junior doctors are set to walk out again on October 2, 3 and 4 – when hospitals across the country will revert to Christmas Day levels of cover.

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