Striking junior doctors walk out of emergency care at Stevenage’s Lister Hospital as government contract row rumbles on

Junior doctors protesting outside The Lister Hospital in Stevenage

Junior doctors protesting outside The Lister Hospital in Stevenage - Credit: Archant

Junior doctors gathered with placards and flags outside the Lister Hospital in Stevenage this morning for their fifth strike of the year to campaign against the newly imposed government contract on their pay and conditions.

The strike began at 8am this morning and will continue until 5pm with the same pattern repeated tomorrow.

It is the first time the medics have walked out of emergency care including maternity, critical care and A&E services.

Rowan Gossedge, who is the British Medical Association representative at the Lister, said: “We can justify this action because we’ve got senior consultants manning A&E and specialist consultants covering the wards, so the message would be if you are ill you should still come to hospital.

“We have looked at the details of the new contract and how it would discriminate against women doctors and lead to a pay cut.

“The quality of care that you and your family will receive will be worse because of this contract.

“The long term consequences to patients’ safety are a huge concern.”

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Mr Gossegde said junior doctors might consider a permanent walk out if the government doesn’t review the new contract.

East and North Herts NHS Trust has postponed 900 outpatient appointments and 20 planned surgical procedures at the Lister across the two days.

Trust chief executive Nick Carver said: “Like all NHS organisations across the country, we are facing a first ever strike involving emergency services as A&E. With the support of all clinical teams, we have developed robust plans to cope with this level of disruption. These plans, which have been developed locally with the support of our NHS colleagues across the county, are in place to protect the safety, welfare and service provided to our patients.

“Although we have planned extensively to cope with the impact of these strikes, it is inevitable that they will impact on our services – for which we are sorry. More than ever, where someone’s life is not in danger but urgent medical attention is needed, people should call NHS 111 first. Its staff will be able to advise about the best services to use locally.

“Please help keep our emergency department at the Lister free to care for those with life-threatening injuries and illnesses.”