Operations on hold as dispute goes on

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More operations will be postponed in Wigan as a result of this week’s junior doctors strike.

Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust has been forced to postpone the routine procedures so that consultants can be redirected to provide cover for the junior doctors.

It will be the fourth time the junior doctors have walked out this year as their dispute over new contracts the Government wants to impose of them continues.

The industrial action this week will see junior doctors continue to provide emergency cover between 8am on Wednesday, April 6 and 8am on Friday, April 8.

The junior doctors will then stage an all-out strike for the first time between 8am and 5pm on Tuesday, April, 26 and Wednesday, April 27.

WWL has said that its advice to patients will be the same during the all-out strike.

NHS staff campaign group Just Health has launched legal action against health secretary Jeremy Hunt and branded the controversial contract “toxic” and unsafe. It is arguing that Jeremy Hunt has no legal right to force the new contract on the majority of junior doctors.

The fourth strike will take place just days after the British Medical Association (BMA) warned that almost nine out of 10 GP practices are struggling to find locum cover as shortage of doctors worsens.

A new BMA survey of 2,814 GP practices in England has found that many are struggling to find locum cover to plug staffing gaps and that a similar number regularly need temporary GPs to staff their services.

2,814 GP practices, around a third of all GP practices in England, responded to the survey which asked over the last 12 months, how often has your practice had difficulty finding locum cover?

In the North West, 172, 44.9 per cent said they frequently struggled to find locum cover, while 161, 42 per cent said they occasionally had difficulty.

Dr Tim Dalton, Local GP and Chair of NHS Wigan Borough CCG, said: “We know that locally GP practices sometimes have difficulty recruiting GPs and this can lead to a higher demand for locum doctors.

“This system isn’t sustainable, so we are beginning on a programme of primary care transformation, which will lead to much more efficient and effective GP Practices that rely less on temporary members of staff and locum doctors.

“We are supporting practices to start to work together and help each other, while working more closely with other health and care providers. We are also working with practices to make more use of technology, such as video consultations and appointment booking through apps, that will make it easier for patients to get appointments, make the system more efficient.”