Only 3% of out-patient care and non-emergency treatment and operations went ahead across hospitals in central Manchester during two junior doctor’s strikes in April, new statistics reveal.
Figures from the Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust also show that across strikes on the 9th and 10th March, 4,464 working hours were lost due to 558 absences.
The junior doctors strikes between January and April saw a stand-off with the government as they protested against the new contracts which were to be introduced by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.
A British Medical Association spokesperson said: “Patient care has always been the priority for junior doctors and we deeply regret any disruption to patients as a result of cancelled operations during and in the aftermath of industrial action.
“Unfortunately, with the government refusing to negotiate, junior doctors were left with no option but to carry out this short-term action with a view to protecting the future of NHS and ultimately patient care in the long term.”
At the time, the junior doctors argued that the strikes were primarily protecting patient safety as they protested against staff shortages and long working hours.
But, over 9,500 hours were lost between January and March in central Manchester hospitals, with over 40% of out-patient care and non-emergency treatment and operations taken down during each strike.
The figures were released from the Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust which covers hospitals including the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, Manchester Royal Infirmary and St Mary’s Hospital.
But Unite regional officer, Keith Hutson, said that, although these strikes could be over, the recent vote for Brexit could ‘provoke a lot more unrest within the NHS’.
He said: “Only time will tell. That really is going to come down to the colour of the government at the time.
“We’ve already been told that the new money that they’re going to get for not paying into the EU, none of it’s going to the NHS, so the campaign was based on a lie.
Mr Hutson said: “There are a lot of uncertainties. A lot of the things I’ve said, I’m trying to speculate when there’s just not enough facts to really think about what may or may not happen.
“But I do think at the end of the day when it goes wrong, which I do think it will go wrong, they will look for the money in the places that they don’t have an ideological sympathy for, such as public services, the NHS, social care.
“I’m most certainly worried that the NHS now faces a further threat greater than the ones it’s already facing.”
During its campaign Vote Leave claimed that £350million a week which used to go into the EU would be put into the NHS after Brexit.
But just hours after the referendum result was announced UKIP leader Nigel Farage backtracked on this promise on ITV’s This Morning.
In a letter sent from BMA council chair, Dr Mark Porter, to the Prime Minister on 30 June, he called for Mr Cameron to keep the government’s promise by giving ‘the NHS the funding which it requires’.
The letter outlined the implications that Brexit would have on the NHS and called for BMA to be involved in negotiations which would affect its doctors.
Dr Porter also stated that the NHS would be a ‘poorer place’ without colleagues from outside the UK.