County braces itself for 'unprecedented' NHS strikes

The county's NHS is set for more major disruption this week with junior doctors and consultants taking combined strike action for the first time.

The NHS is preparing for a historic walkout which will affect almost all planned care as the first ever joint strike by consultants and junior doctors begins.

Consultants begin their strike action on Tuesday and are joined by junior doctors on Wednesday.

From 7am on Wednesday, both junior doctors and consultants will deliver Christmas day levels of staffing only, meaning that emergency care will be provided.

Both groups will then strike on October 2, 3 and 4, again providing Christmas day cover.

NHS leaders have warned that the combined strikes will cause unprecedented disruption for patients, amid a historic joint walkout.

Planned care is likely to come to a halt with thousands of appointments cancelled, as the row with the Government over pay and working conditions continues.

Now in the tenth month of industrial action across the NHS, which has seen more than 885,000 inpatient and outpatient appointments rescheduled, staff continue to work hard to provide patients with the best possible care.

More than 200 appointments were cancelled and 66 staff were out of action at Shropshire's three main hospitals - Royal Shrewsbury Hospital, Princess Royal Hospital, Telford, and Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Hospital, Oswestry - during the last consultant strikes on August 24 and 25.

Ahead of the strike action, NHS national medical director Professor Sir Stephen Powis warned the health service had "never seen this kind of industrial action in its history".

He added: "This week's first ever joint action means almost all planned care will come to a stop and hundreds of thousands of appointments will be postponed, which is incredibly difficult for patients and their families, and poses an enormous challenge for colleagues across the NHS."

He said people should still call 999 and use A&E as normal in emergency situations.

Rishi Sunak began his premiership pledging to cut waiting lists, but ministers' failure to resolve the dispute with junior medics and consultants has cast doubt on whether that promise can be achieved.

Figures released earlier this month showed the NHS waiting list in England reached a new record high with 7.7 million people - around one in seven - waiting for treatment.

The NHS England data show 34,754 patients were waiting for non-urgent elective operations or treatment at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust at the end of July – down from 35,176 in June, and 36,834 in July 2022.

At Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust 12,760 patients were waiting for non-urgent elective operations or treatment at the end of July, and 14,749 patients were waiting for elective operations or treatment at The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital.

Across the county, 3,464 people have been waiting for treatment over a year.

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