Long-term impact of strikes as 531,000 appointments hit

17 April 2023

Responding to new NHS England figures showing that more than 531,000 appointments have been rescheduled due to industrial action since last December, NHS Providers chief executive Sir Julian Hartley said:

"As feared, the four-day strike by junior doctors has led to the biggest disruption for patients yet, with just over 201,000 appointments having to be rescheduled.

"Nobody in the NHS wants patients to be left waiting longer for appointments but the disruption caused by strikes is piling even more pressure on overstretched services already facing a chronic capacity crunch, putting a brake on progress in bringing down waiting lists.

"Trust leaders and staff are working flat out to see patients as quickly as possible, having slashed the longest waits for treatment. Their hard work has also meant that front line teams have made major inroads into reducing the number of people waiting more than 78 weeks for planned care: a remarkable achievement under the circumstances.

"But on top of the effects of more than a decade of underinvestment, ever-growing demand for services and severe staff shortages we now face weeks and weeks of trying to catch up with activity lost on strike days.

"Trust leaders understand why staff across the NHS who have seen their pay fall behind inflation year after year have taken to the picket lines.

"We can't go on like this. If the planned new strikes by nurses and by Unite members at some trusts go ahead we will be facing the sixth straight month of industrial action in the NHS.

"Trust leaders want what's best for patients and staff. The huge number of rescheduled operations and appointments will keep climbing unless the government sits down with unions to find a way to prevent any more strikes."