April 19, 2023 5.00 pm This story is over 14 months old

Junior doctors strike impact: Almost 1,500 hospital cancellations in Lincolnshire

The four day strike had a significant impact on Lincolnshire’s NHS services

By Local Democracy Reporter

Close to 1,500 appointments were cancelled or rescheduled across Greater Lincolnshire as a result of the recent four-day junior doctors strikes, NHS data reveals.

Junior doctors and their trade union the British Medical Association (BMA) are locked in a dispute over pay and working conditions, prompting a mass walkout between April 11 and 15.

NHS data has revealed that almost 200,000 procedures had to be rescheduled between April 11 and 15 across the whole of England.

In Lincolnshire, junior doctors on a picket line in Lincoln said would rather be caring for patients than on strike, and accused the Health Secretary of “refusing to negotiate with unions”.

United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust was the worst affected trust in Greater Lincolnshire during the four-day industrial action, with a total of 971 inpatient and outpatient procedures rescheduled as a result of the strikes.

| Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Due to the junior doctor walkout, 714 shifts were lost across the four days.

(NHS England’s data counted the absences per day, meaning staff who did not attend work for the full strike add four to the overall total.)

Michelle Harris, Chief Operating Officer at United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “Like all other NHS organisations nationally, our hospitals were significantly impacted by the industrial action taken by junior doctors.

“We offer our thanks to colleagues who supported us to maintain safety for our patients, services and working environments during this time. With their help and with some locum doctor cover, our challenges still included a doctor shortfall of approximately 45% when compared to our usual staffing levels.

“Unfortunately this led to 79 planned operations and 892 outpatient appointments being rearranged across all of our hospitals over the four day period.

“Cancelling patient appointments is not a decision we take lightly and we are sorry to those who have been affected. Our booking teams are now working exceptionally hard to re-book everything that has been cancelled, and to get people back in as quickly as possible.”

Johnson Community Hospital, Spalding. | Photo: LCHS

Ten community appointments had to be rescheduled at the Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust. No data was for the number of staff absences.

However, no mental health and learning disability appointments were affected by the industrial action.

Reva Stewart, Chief Operating Officer at Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust (LCHS) said: “Like most areas, the Lincolnshire NHS system has been impacted by the junior doctor strikes. 

“The Trust has not cancelled any appointments and we continued to support other health and care organisations with getting patients safely discharged out of acute hospitals when they were ready to move on.

“Many of our services look after patients in the community ensuring that they don’t have to go to a hospital in the first place.”

A dog showing paw-some support for the junior doctors. | Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust recorded similarly low numbers for community and mental health/learning disability appointments, but also reported 115 staff absences across the four-day period.

A total of 12 mental health and learning disability procedures were cancelled, but no community appointments were impacted.

Girish Kunigiri, Medical Director at LPFT, comments: “We’d like to thank our staff for supporting each other throughout the industrial action. Colleagues and teams from across our Trust worked together to ensure services ran smoothly as possible and that disruption to our patients was kept to a minimum.

“Unfortunately, we did need to reschedule a very small number of appointments and where this was the case, patients were contacted in advance and support was given where needed.”

Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust (NLaG) reported 491 shift losses during junior doctor strikes in April, and had to reschedule some 479 inpatient and outpatient procedures in that time also.

However, no community appointments were cancelled in the four days at NLaG.

The trust has been contacted for further comment.

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