More than 200 appointments have been cancelled as Hartlepool medics joined in a 48-hour strike.
Junior doctors from the University Hospital of Hartlepool have joined the strike, which runs until tomorrow morning, in protest against the Government’s planned imposed changes to their contracts.
A spokeswoman for the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust said they have had to cancel two operations and 284 patients appointments across the trust, which includes the University Hospital of North Tees, University Hospital of Hartlepool and Peterlee Community Hospital.
She said: “The trust has followed guidelines from NHS Employers and the British Medical Association, to ensure we are safely providing the right level of care to our patients.
“Some non-urgent planned operations and some non-urgent outpatient clinics have been cancelled.”
The Hartlepool junior doctors are joining thousands of colleagues around the country in staging this strike after talks failed to reach an agreement.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has announced he will impose the contract on junior doctors – everyone up to consultant level – after months of talks with the British Medical Association (BMA) failed to reach a resolution.
The BMA said the contracts will result in doctors working longer for less.
Two further 48-hour strikes are planned from April 8 and April 26.
Health service leaders are warning the junior doctor dispute is beginning to take its toll on the NHS in England.
NHS England’s Dr Anne Rainsberry said the sustained nature of the action was making it difficult for hospitals.
The total number of operations and treatments which have been cancelled because of the strikes to date now stands at 19,000, with hospitals working hard to re-arrange the treatments, which cover routine operations such as knee and hip replacements, as well as check-ups and tests.
The NHS carries out about 30,000 procedures a day.
Dr Rainsberry, of NHS England, said: “A 48-hour strike will put significantly more pressure on the NHS and the cumulative effect of these recurring strikes is likely to take a toll.”
Katherine Murphy, of the Patients Association, said: “Whatever the rights and wrongs of the arguments put forward by either side, the failure to resolve the differences by agreement is bad for doctors, bad for the taxpayer, but above all bad for patients and the NHS.”