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