Doctors strike ‘will force 8 million onto the NHS’s waiting list’


Doctors strike ‘will force 8 million onto the NHS’s waiting list’

The NHS waiting list will hit 8 million by winter if the doctors’ strikes aren’t resolved, experts say.On Thursday (12th July) junior doctors began th

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The NHS waiting list will hit 8 million by winter if the doctors’ strikes aren’t resolved, experts say.

On Thursday (12th July) junior doctors began their longest-ever strike action – five consecutive days.

This will be followed by the first walk-out by consultants in more than a decade, – two consecutive days starting on 20 July.

The strikes, over pay, come as a new analysis shows up to 1 in 4 patients classed as emergencies are waiting more than 12 hours to be admitted to hospital after a decision is made – a potentially deadly delay.

The longest waits were in Gloucester with 28 percent of patients waiting more than 12 hours to be admitted following an emergency decision to admit.

NHS Lincolnshire -16 percent – and Northamptonshire – 15 percent. The figures – the latest available – related to May and were analysed by the law firm Patient line.

They follow NHS performance figures published last week (Thursday) showing a record-high waiting list of 7.47 million. Consecutive NHS strikes since last year have so far seen 600,000 hospital appointments cancelled.

In some areas ambulance crews are waiting so long outside hospitals that volunteers are being asked to serve them refreshments.

The Royal Voluntary Service put out an appeal for a new pilot scheme it is running alongside the NHS.

Trialled in Norwich, it will see volunteers work shifts at A&E supporting ambulance crews with tea, coffee and food as they wait for their patients to be admitted.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced a ‘final’ pay increase of six percent plus a lump sum payment.

However, while the move was welcomed by some, BMA members boasted they would use it to continue with strikes.
One doctor posted on Reddit: “We can effectively have 28 strike day pay deductions and still not take home a penny less than we would have otherwise.”

An analysis by experts at Oxford University predicts the numbers waiting will continue to rise unless there is urgent action.
Writing on their substack, Trust the Evidence, the researchers predict: “With the current strikes, and if the current trend isn’t reversed, then it’ll be 8 million by winter.”

The experts report 482 patients have been waiting more than two years for care while the number waiting over a year stands at 385,022.

Professor Carl Heneghan, Director of the Centre for Evidence Based Medicine at Oxford University and co-author of research said: “The junior doctors and consultant strikes will only make matters worse by leading to more cancellations.

“The waiting list problem looks like a runaway train, which we may not get on top of. Winter is just around the corner and waiting lists are accelerating. These Long waits can prove deadly and are stressful for patients. The vaccine task force showed us how to hone in on a problem and focus on the task at hand. This is what we need.”

And a survey of health leaders by NHS Providers, which represents trusts, revealed one-third of hospital chiefs are not confident they will hit the government’s target to eliminate the number of patients waiting more than a year for care by March 2025.

Last week NHS medical director Dr Stephen Powis warned tens of thousands of patient appointments and operations will be cancelled each day due to the action.

Commenting at the start of the junior doctor’s strike he said: “We will now see industrial action on 11 out of the next 14 days so we are entering an incredibly busy, disruptive period for the NHS.

“While staff continue to work hard to provide patients with the care they need, the next strike is the longest and most disruptive yet – strikes have already impacted around 600,000 hospital appointments across the NHS, with tens of thousands more set to be affected in the coming weeks

“…we cannot continue like this – action is having a major impact for patients in need of routine care, and an increasing effect on NHS services and our hard-working staff as they try to maintain services and address a record backlog.”

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