'Double whammy' of doctor strikes must be averted

27 June 2023

In response to news that senior doctors plan to take two days' industrial action, Sir Julian Hartley, chief executive of NHS Providers, said:

"Trust leaders, staff and patients are dreading industrial action by consultants next month hard on the heels of a five-day strike by junior doctors.

"A double whammy of consultants resorting to two days of 'Christmas Day cover' – meaning they will provide emergency care but routine work will be paused – and a full walkout by junior doctors days earlier in the longest single strike ever seen in the NHS means disruption for many thousands of patients and yet more pressure on overstretched services. This is a huge risk for the NHS to manage.

"July will be the eighth consecutive month of industrial action across the NHS. More than 651,000 routine operations and appointments have had to be postponed already since December due to industrial action across the NHS with knock-on delays for many thousands more.

"We understand how strongly doctors feel – the high turnout in the consultants' vote shows just how strongly – and why they are striking. Trust leaders will continue to do everything they can to limit disruption and keep patients safe but that's getting harder and more expensive with every strike.

"These strikes don't have to go ahead. There's still time for the government and the doctors' unions to settle their differences and find a way through.

"The urgency can't be overstated. Trust leaders want the government and unions to sit down, facilitated by a third party if necessary, to find a way to end strikes."