HEALTH chiefs have moved to reassure patients that when doctors take industrial action tomorrow for the first time in almost 40 years there will be “minimal disruption” to services.
NHS Tees and NHS County Durham and Darlington say that services will be “safe” during the British Medical Association (BMA) action which will see dozens of doctors across Hartlepool and East Durham taking action.
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Bosses warned that some non-urgent cases and outpatient clinics may be postponed, but patients affected should have already been informed if arrangements are going to change.
A spokesman for NHS Tees and NHS County Durham and Darlington said: “Appropriate steps are being taken to ensure there is minimal disruption to patients and that services are safe during the day of BMA action.
“Patients can be reassured that all urgent and emergency care services will be running as usual, however we do anticipate that some non-urgent cases and outpatient clinics may be postponed.
“Local NHS organisations, hospitals and GP practices, will be in touch directly with patients in advance of June 21 if their care is likely to be affected.
“Patients do not need to do anything now and should turn up for appointments as usual unless they have been contacted and told otherwise.” The health trusts also have to decide whether or not to dock the pay of the striking doctors, of which there are around 100,000 across the country who could take part in the day of action in protest over the Government’s controversial pension reforms.
Meanwhile, hospital doctors who are not participating in industrial action on Thursday will be drafted in to other departments to ensure the safety of patients.
The BMA announced the day of action last month after it accused ministers of pressing ahead with “totally unjustified” increases to pension contributions and a later retirement age for doctors despite a deal on pensions being agreed four years ago.
Most doctors will be taking industrial action for the first time, with the last dispute almost 40 years ago.