The Whittington and Royal Free put plans in place for first ever full doctor walk-out

Junior doctors on strike at the Royal Free during a day of action in March

Junior doctors on strike at the Royal Free during a day of action in March - Credit: Archant

The Whittington and Royal Free hospitals are preparing to have no junior doctors covering their emergency departments after the first ever ‘full’ strike was announced yesterday.

Striking junior doctors outside the Whittington Hospital during a national day of action 10.02.16.

Striking junior doctors outside the Whittington Hospital during a national day of action 10.02.16. - Credit: Archant

Both hospitals have begun to make plans for coping with historic walk-out on April 26 and have assured the Ham&High that emergency care will be prioritised.

A spokeswoman for The Whittington Trust said it was too early to know the impact the full strike will have on the hospital’s Emergency Department (ED) but “would encourage anyone with a serious or life-threatening emergency not to stay away.”

She added: “Our teams have been working closely to make sure that we have an effective plan in place to protect patient safety and care whilst enabling our junior doctor colleagues to express their legitimate concerns through industrial action.

“We are now working with our consultant colleagues across our emergency and urgent care services to ensure that we will have safe staffing levels across the department.”

Striking junior doctors outside the Royal Free Hospital during a national day of action 10.02.16.

Striking junior doctors outside the Royal Free Hospital during a national day of action 10.02.16. - Credit: Archant


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A Royal Free spokesman told the Ham&High the hospital would be diverting some staff from non-emergency departments in order to cover gaps in staffing.

He added: “We have already put a number of measures in place to ensure that patient safety is not compromised. A safe emergency service will always be our first priority.”

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Neither hospitals could yet confirm how many junior doctors would be walking out of the EDs or whether they will be drafting in agency staff to cope with demand.

Junior doctors announced the full strike yesterday and said they have been left with “no choice” after the government vowed to press ahead with contract changes that doctors say threaten patient safety.

In a statement released by the British Medical Association (BMA) Dr Johann Malawana, BMA junior doctor committee chair, said:

“No junior doctor wants to take this action but the government has left us with no choice and will bear direct responsibility for the first full walkout of doctors in this country.

“We want to end this dispute through talks but the government is making this impossible, it is flatly refusing to engage with junior doctors, has done nothing to halt industrial action and is wilfully ignoring the mounting chorus of concerns over its plans to impose coming from doctors, patients and senior NHS managers. Faced with this reality what else can junior doctors do?”

In response to the announcement, the Department of Health has labelled junior doctors “desperate and irresponsible” and said their actions will “inevitably put patients in harm’s way.”

The strike is due to take place between 8am and 5pm on April 26 and 27.

The industrial action scheduled for 48 hours on April 6 is still due to go ahead and will not include the withdrawal of emergency care.

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