Royal Free and Whittington hospitals prepare for day one of junior doctor strikes

Junior doctors will be on strike today

Junior doctors will be on strike today - Credit: PA WIRE

Picket lines have been set up at the Whittington and Royal Free hospitals as junior doctors walk out for the first time in 40 years.

Today marks the first of three scheduled strike dates announced by the British Medical Association (BMA) in response to government plans to change junior doctor contracts.

During the strikes, which begin at 8am, The Royal Free and Whittington will continue to run emergency care services and both hospitals have stated that they will be prioritising patient safety.

Chairman of the Whittington Trust, Simon Pleydell, said: “It is extremely regrettable that we have got here, but it is the legitimate right of staff to take industrial action and, as an organisation, we support that.”

The strikes were announced last week by the BMA after talks with the Department of Health broke down and today’s walk out will be followed by further action on January 26 an February 10.

A Royal Free Hospital spokesman said: “Our junior doctors play a key role in helping us provide world class care to all our patients.

“We have put a number of measures in place to ensure that patient safety is not compromised during the industrial action and we are working hard to ensure that cancellations are kept to a minimum.”

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Both hospitals have announced they will be contacting patients to rearrange any cancelled appointments.