Hundreds of appointments at St Helens and Knowsley Hospitals Trust postponed due to junior doctors' strike
Hundreds of appointments were postponed at St Helens and Knowsley Hospitals Trust due to the junior doctors' strike this month, new figures show.
The six-day walkout from January 3 to January 9 was the longest strike in NHS history, with the British Medical Association demanding a 35% pay rise. The Government called this "not affordable".
NHS England figures show the strike resulted in more than 113,000 inpatient and outpatient appointments across England being postponed.
Of these, 435 were at St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, with Wednesday January 3 seeing the highest number of postponed appointments, at 141.
NHS leaders warned the impact caused by the strike could last for months.
NHS England’s national medical director Professor Sir Stephen Powis said: "The longest strike in NHS history has led to unprecedented disruption for patients and their families, and while staff have planned extensively and worked tirelessly to keep patients safe, it comes once again with an enormous cost."
Sir Stephen said the figure is likely higher than the 113,000 recorded, with medical leaders and frontline staff concerned about rising flu cases and the cold weather causing increased hospitalisations.
"This puts an incredible strain on staff who have been covering striking colleagues as we continue to navigate one of the most difficult times of year," he added.
"Colleagues across the NHS will now be doing everything they can to make up for lost time as we continue to make progress on addressing the elective backlog and ensure patients get the care they need."
Sir Julian Hartley, chief executive of NHS Providers, urged the Government and unions to "sit down and talk to find a way to stop this dispute dragging on".
Louise Ansari, chief executive at Healthwatch England, said patients bear the brunt of industrial action.
"People need to be protected from yet another year of disrupted services and risks to their health. We are urging the Government and the BMA to redouble their efforts to reach an agreement," she added.
The figures also show an average of 353 junior doctors were on strike each day over the six-day period at St Helens and Knowsley Hospitals Trust, with the walkout peaking on Thursday January 4 at 606.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: "Despite the significant pressure, the healthcare system has coped well thanks to the hard work of consultants, nurses and other healthcare staff who worked during industrial action.
"The strikes may have ended, but their repercussions will be felt for weeks and months to come.
"We want to put an end to damaging strikes once and for all, and if the BMA junior doctors’ committee can demonstrate they have reasonable expectations, we will still sit down with them."