NHS strikes deadlock hits patients hard

16 August 2023

Responding to official figures showing 61,835 appointments across hospital, mental health and community services were postponed due to the junior doctors' four-day strike (11-15 August) – now a total of 897,341 since the strikes began in December – Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive at NHS Providers said:

"The strikes are hitting patients hard and risk profound, long-lasting damage to the NHS. The number of postponed appointments due to industrial action could soon hit a million unless the government and unions sit down urgently to find a resolution on pay.

"As well as the appointments that get pushed back, there are also tens of thousands that can't be booked on strike days, which further delays care.

"Industrial action has cost the NHS around £1bn already, including through lost income and hiring expensive staff cover. Strikes are also hampering trusts' efforts to bear down on care backlogs, putting at risk the government's pledge to cut the elective waiting list, now at a record-high 7.6 million.

"Years of squeezed funding for the NHS followed by a pandemic, the cost-of-living crisis, workforce shortages and industrial action have stacked pressure on the health service. This will become even more challenging when we head into winter, the busiest time of year.

"Consultants plan to strike for two days next week and another two days next month. If junior doctors announce in early September that they have voted to strike for another six months, the NHS will face an unprecedented challenge this winter and beyond.

"Trusts do everything they can to ensure patient safety during a strike, but the cost of industrial action is clearly too high for this to become business as usual.

"The dispute must be resolved immediately so that trusts can continue prioritising the delivery of safe, high-quality, timely patient care."