More than 85,000 appointments rescheduled because of latest NHS strike


More than 85,000 appointments in England have had to be rescheduled because of the latest strike by junior doctors and hospital dental trainees, new figures show.

NHS data released on Wednesday showed 86,329 inpatient and outpatient appointments have had to be moved to another date.

It takes the number of appointments rescheduled since industrial action in the health service began in December last year above 1.2 million.

Junior doctors and hospital dental trainees walked out from 7am on Wednesday until 7am on Saturday.

Further strikes from 7am on January 3 until 7am on January 9 are expected to bring further disruption.

The figures show that the highest number of appointments, 31,805, were postponed on December 20.

London was the most affected region, with 25,366 appointments rescheduled.

NHS England national medical director Professor Sir Stephen Powis said: “This latest round of strike action over the festive period has put an already overloaded heath service under significantly more pressure – three days of strike action, ending two days before Christmas, has seen more than 86,000 more appointments rescheduled for patients needing care.

“As well as having an impact on planned care, industrial action is putting pressure on wider services, and prioritising emergency care takes staff away from other areas such as recovering services.

Junior doctors and members of the British Medical Association (BMA) on the picket line outside Leicester Royal Infirmary during their continuing dispute over pay. Picture date: Thursday December 21, 2023.

“With another six-day walkout coming in the New Year at what is one of the busiest times for the health service, strike action is once again going to bring significant challenges to the NHS as it struggles to provide for patients amid severe disruption.

“As ever, over the festive period, we encourage people to attend A&E and call 999 in life-threatening emergencies, but to use 111 online for other health needs.”

Miriam Deakin, NHS Providers’ director of policy and strategy, said: “We can’t go on like this. We can’t afford another year of walkouts. This dispute needs urgent resolution.

“Trust leaders understand junior doctors’ strength of feeling and why they’re striking, but with a hugely disruptive six-day strike, the longest in NHS history, looming at the start of January, it’s now vital that the Government and unions find a way to restart talks and prevent more walkouts.

“With more than 1.2 million hospital, mental health and community service appointments, including operations and scans, delayed since last December thanks to industrial action, patients are paying the price.

“During strikes emergency treatment is the priority, unfortunately meaning trusts have to reschedule lots of planned care.

“Industrial action by NHS staff over the year has cost the NHS around £2 billion too.”