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GP practices to reduce routine appointments on junior doctor strike days

Exclusive Some GP practices will reduce routine appointments to patients on the junior doctor strike days as a precaution in case of an increase in urgent care demand, Pulse has learned.

Doncaster LMC medical secretary Dr Dean Eggitt said his practice is fully supportive of the strikes, but has already limited pre-booked appointments on 1 December, the first day on which junior doctors are due to walk out.

Another practice, in Wiltshire, has also informed patients that it will only be taking urgent appointments on this day.

The GPC has said it is not expecting a surge in demand at GP practices on the days of the industrial action, which will see junior doctors continuing to provide emergency care on 1 December, followed by a full walk-out from 8am to 5pm on Tuesday 8 December, and another at the same time on Wednesday 16 December.

But some practices are taking precautions in the run-up to the action.

Dr Eggitt’s Oakwood Surgery in Doncaster has sent out a note to patients via social media which says: ’To ensure that no harm comes to patients as a consequence of the strike action, we will be reducing routine access to care on this day to help cope with any unexpected increases in demand from other parts of the NHS.

’Whilst we do not anticipate a large surge in demand for our service on the day of the strike we feel that this is the best course of action to ensure safety for our patients who require urgent care.’

Dr Eggitt also invited other GPs to use the message should they wish to do so, and the same message now features on the Three Swans Surgery in Salisbury, Wiltshire. 

Asked why the practice took the decision to send the note, Dr Eggitt told Pulse: ’For two reasons, really. One, because we wanted to support our junior doctors in their strike, so we wanted to send out a message of support.

’Secondly, for the genuine consideration that there may be a surge in activity in primary care. We wanted to ensure that we had the capacity to cope if there is a surge in activity.’

However, GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey said: ’Practices should not anticipate seeing more patients on these days as it’s unlikely that patients who would otherwise have attended an out patient clinic in hospital or were booked for an operation would attend their general practice instead on the days of action.

’I’ve no doubt however that even if there is an increase in workload for GPs they will see that as a price worth paying in order to support their junior doctor colleagues.’

Earlier this month, a BMA ballot saw 98% of junior doctors voting in favour of full strike action over the contract row that sees the Government pushing to reduce pay for doctors working on weekends. The GPC is supporting the action.

The letter in full:

”Important information about the upcoming Junior Doctor Strike.

Between 8am Tuesday 1st December and 8am Wednesday 2nd December junior doctors across the UK will be striking against the government. This strike is to oppose contract changes which junior doctors believe will cause harm to patients.

On this day, junior doctors will not be providing routine care in the NHS, but will provide emergency care only.

To ensure that no harm comes to patients as a consequence of the strike action, we will be reducing routine access to care on this day to help cope with any unexpected increases in demand from other parts of the NHS.

Whilst we do not anticipate a large surge in demand for our service on the day of the strike we feel that this is the best course of action to ensure safety for our patients who require urgent care.

Consequently, if you medical problem is not urgent, please do not request an appointment for Tuesday 1st December.

Please be thoughtful on the strike day and respect that our junior doctors are trying to safeguard the quality of care that they are able to provide for you.”

Source: The Oakwood Surgery

 

Readers' comments (20)

  • Daft headline - surely should read 'GPs will increase emergency capacity on days of junior doctor strikes' !!

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  • yes, its counterproductive to the impact of the strikes.

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  • Just run normally; if there is a bit more demand then there will be delays at our surgeries. We are all good at spotting the sick so some routine will have to wait a bit- the effect of a strike is to raise the issue amoungst all and if that means someone waits a bit for their consultation--good! Pushing work to another day is not promoting the fact that the NHS runs on the backs of junior staff. Support your juniors by do nothing different and definately do not volunteer for ED shifts and to act as the elderly care juniors as has been suggested locally.

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  • The purpose of a strike is to have a negative impact so which drives change for the better. If there is no negative impact then there is no need for a strike. The government and the GMC are trying to rob us of our rights using cheep emotional blackmail. STRIKE

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  • Surely the headline should read ," GPs do their best to save Jeremy Hunt's neck". English GPs should work as normal and if extra work is generated then it should be done and the trust be invoiced for extra work.

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  • I cannot think why they are doing this? If the govenment chase off all the juniors will gps cover the slack all the time?
    If yes that is fine, if no why are they doing it now. People have to experience the absence of the juniors otherwise they will not realise the gravity of the situation.
    In addition it has been said that the number of people dying in strikes reduces.
    Support juniors by going on as normal. Support the government by hiding the problems of the contract and taking up the slack.

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  • God help the gps, they will go down the pan if they can't even support the junior's strike.

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  • It would seem that by trying to reduce the impact of the Juniors' strike, Dr Eggitt is in fact, trying to sabotage the collective action. No wonder, one finds it difficult to trust the LMCs.
    We all understand that patient safety comes first but it's time to think of overworked colleagues and ourselves and our families too as we are also human and need support. Thank you LMC secretary, I'm sure you will be elected again next term as you probably always have been which reflects in your complacency and misjudgement of the whole situation.

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  • 5:15 is right
    When did GPs supported others unless they have something to gain. Backstabbing is a norm.
    I don't agree with strike, but once they have decided with huge majority to go on strike I will whole heartedly support our juniors.

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