NHS faces increased pressure due to strikes and heatwave 

Health and Education News

Patients in England are bracing for what could be a major disruption this week, as NHS leaders warn of the impact of the junior doctor strike, which coincides with the hottest week of the year. 

Members of the British Medical Association (BMA) are set to begin a five-day walkout starting Thursday, marking the 11th strike in an ongoing pay dispute.

The BMA is advocating for a 35% pay increase to address what they describe as 15 years of below-inflation pay raises. The government, however, has labelled these demands as unreasonable. 

Last financial year, junior doctors, who make up nearly half of the medical workforce, received an average pay rise of nearly 9%. The BMA exited negotiations last year where an additional 3% pay rise was being considered.

This latest round of strikes also coincides with yellow heat-health alerts issued across many regions of the country. NHS England has warned that services will be under substantial pressure and has advised the public to use healthcare services judiciously.

The UK Health Security Agency’s yellow alerts highlight the potential risks posed by the hot weather, which can lead to heat stroke and exhaustion, as well as exacerbate respiratory and heart conditions for those who are particularly vulnerable.

According to medical director Sir Stephen Powis, there could be a lot of disruption to planned hospital care like appointments and operations, with many patients having their routine appointments cancelled. However, he added that people should still use the 999 service for emergencies and can contact NHS 111 if they have an urgent health need. 

He also noted: “This new round of strike action will again hit the NHS very hard, with almost all routine care likely to be affected and services put under significant pressure. As ever, we are working to ensure urgent and emergency care is prioritised for patients. 

GP services and pharmacies are also available for patients and can be accessed in the normal way. Patients who haven’t been contacted or informed that their planned appointments have been postponed are also urged to attend.”

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