196,000 Cancellations Caused by Junior Doctor Strike


Last week, 196,000 hospital appointments were cancelled due to the junior doctor strike in England, with the total number of appointments affected by all strikes over the past five months reaching over 500,000. This includes operations, treatments, scans, follow-up appointments, tests and check-ups. The true scale of disruption is likely to be higher as many hospitals had cut back ahead of the strike to minimise last-minute postponements.

NHS national medical director Prof Sir Stephen Powis said: “Today’s figures lay bare the colossal impact of industrial action on planned care in the NHS. Each of the appointments postponed has an impact on the lives of individuals and their families and creates further pressure on services and on a tired workforce – and this is likely to be an underestimate of the impact as some areas provisionally avoided scheduling appointments for these strike days.”

The Royal College of Nursing recently announced a strike from 20:00 BST on 30 April to 20:00 on 2 May after its members rejected the pay offer from government. It also said it would ballot members about taking more strike action over the course of the year. Unite, one of the smaller health unions which represents NHS staff such as support workers, admin staff and paramedics, also said members at London’s Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital and Yorkshire Ambulance Service would walk out on 1 May.

The industrial action has left staff exhausted and University College London Hospitals chief executive David Probert warned that the nurses’ strike, which for the first time will involve staff in critical areas such as intensive care, will have a “severe impact”. He predicted planned care would “almost disappear” and it is possible that elements of emergency care will not be open during the strike.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “All along we have said this offer is nowhere near good enough for NHS workers. The government needs to return to negotiations and put more money on the table.” It is clear that many NHS workers are rejecting the current pay offer and if more industrial action is taken, it could have a significant impact on services across the country.