Junior doctors in Boston continuing their strike over pay and conditions want to reassure patients not to worry if they need emergency care.
A group of junior doctors joined the picket line outside Pilgrim Hospital this morning, attracting support from passing motorists with their banners urging ‘Honk if you support junior doctors’.
You wouldn’t ask a motorist to drive a car when he is tiredDr Mohammed Suleman
They walked out of routine and emergency care at 8am and were hoping to be joined by others before the strike ends at 5pm.
For the first time, the strike at hospitals nationwide has affected A&E, maternity and intensive care.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said the Government would not back down and halt the imposition of the new contract.
But for the junior doctors in Boston, the decision to go on strike has not been easy.
Dr Aleesha Jethwa and her colleagues are on a one-year contract running until August.
She said: “I really didn’t want to strike but we want the public to know we have the support of the consultants today. Anyone needing emergency care will receive it. The consultants have been very supportive. We have it covered.
”We feel passionately about saving the NHS. The Government wants seven day a week elective care (not urgent), but there are already gaps in our rotas. We already work extra hours that we are not paid for, but it isn’t about the money. We just wouldn’t want to leave a patient who needs us.”
Dr Mohammed Suleman said: “The new rotas include a change our shift patterns that would leave us permanently in a jetlag situation. You wouldn’t ask a motorist to drive a car when he is tired. Many of our life-saving decisions are made in seconds but when you are tired your decision making is slower.
“The government needs to invest in the NHS and employ more doctors not try to spread us more thinly. Instead junior doctors are already talking about leaving the UK and going to Australia.”
Dr Lindy Bolzern said: “I have been on a shift with no break and had 44 calls in one shift. It is the vulnerable patients who will suffer. Pilgrim Hospital has its own pressures with the area having an aging population. Until there is investment in social care for patients after hospital there will be a delay in beds becoming free. The problem doesn’t rest with doctors.
“I can speak as a patient as well as a doctor because I too have had appointments cancelled - and it has been nothing to do with the strikes.
“I know how frustrating it can be.”
A spokesman for United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust said around 745 outpatient appointments and 18 operations have been postponed as a result of the action.
Patient whose appointments have been cancelled have been contacted to re-book.
Mark Brassington, Chief Operating Officer, said hospitals had coped well during yesterday’s strike. He said: “Our staff have worked very hard to maintain good care and minimise disruption to services. Our emergency care services were busy and we expect them to be busy again today. Please can all members of the public help us by using alternatives to A&E unless it is a recent accident or an emergency. Before coming to A&E, we would urge people to call 111, or visit their GP, pharmacist, walk in centre or their urgent care centre.
“We are sorry to patients affected by the strike and for the inconvenience this caused. We are thankful for people’s support and understanding.