Hospitals to be hit by junior doctors’ walkout

The University Hospital of North Tees in Stockton where yesterday's board meeting was held.

The University Hospital of North Tees in Stockton where yesterday's board meeting was held.

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Hospital chiefs say they hope talks between the government and a doctors’ trade union will avert a planned strike by junior doctors next week.

But leaders of North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Trust, which runs Hartlepool and North Tees university hospitals, say they have contingency plans in place if the walkout goes ahead on Tuesday.

Trust will continue to ensure that there is minimal disruption to patient care

Alan Foster, North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust chief executive

Further industrial action is currently planned for Tuesday, December 8 and Wednesday, December 16, in protest by junior doctors at new contracts which doctors say it is unfair for them and unsafe for patients.

Talks began yesterday between the British Medical Association union and health secretary Jeremy Hunt through the ACAS conciliation service.

If they go ahead the doctors will only provide emergency care similar to that on a Christmas Day.

Alan Foster, Trust chief executive, told a board meeting yesterday: “The Trust will continue to ensure that there is minimal disruption to patient care on those days where industrial action is planned.”

Regarding the latest talks Mr Foster added: “I’m hoping it will be good news which might avert the need for strike action and buy us a bit of time.”

Ann Burrell, Trust director of human resources and education, said there would be exemptions for some staff including those in emergency care.

She added staff and patients would be informed of how they may be affected, including any outpatient clinics affected and providing the right contact numbers to the public.

Ms Burrell said: “We will make sure everyone is suitably informed.”