According to NHS authorities, the number of appointments, operations, and treatments rescheduled as a result of strikes in the NHS in England is “touching distance of one million.”
The British Medical Association (BMA) consultants’ strike took place from August 24-26, and as a result, 45,827 inpatient and outpatient hospital appointments in England had to be rescheduled.
According to NHS England, which released the data, a total of 1,302 cancellations in mental health, learning disability, and community settings were also reported. However, this number is likely to have included a minor degree of double counting.
Since the current round of NHS industrial action started in December 2022, 885,154 inpatient and outpatient appointments have been canceled in England.
The amount increases to almost 940,000 if the community and mental health statistics are included, albeit this will not accurately reflect the entire number of cancellations that really occurred due to some data duplication.
In addition, not all NHS trusts have been able to provide data for NHS England’s publishing, making it impossible to accurately depict the real scope of the disruption.
NHS executives claim that because many hospitals have ceased scheduling surgeries and other appointments for future strike days, the actual impact of the walkouts is being hidden.
The NHS, the lives of patients, and the lives of their families continue to be significantly impacted by industrial action.
The NHS Confederation’s chief executive, Matthew Taylor, commented on the data, saying that despite the excellent work done by health leaders and their teams, the most recent round of industrial action resulted in the cancellation of 47,129 operations and appointments, bringing the total number of cancellations over the previous nine months of strike action to just shy of one million.
“This has to end. Health officials are gravely concerned that we could be sleeping our way into the NHS’s very own winter of discontent because the NHS cannot be expected to continue to roll over in the face of adversity for very much longer. Junior doctors are aiming to broaden their mandate for industrial action.
“To end this, all parties must cooperate for the benefit of the health service.”
NHS Providers CEO Sir Julian Hartley continued, “Trust executives are disturbed by the snowball effect of the strikes on patients.
The walkouts since December have caused nearly one million people in England to have their hospital, mental health, and community care appointments rescheduled.Additionally, the impact of all the appointments that could not be scheduled on the strike day itself is enormous.
“No one can afford for this conflict to go on. The administration and unions must reopen negotiations.
“Industrial action continues to have a huge impact on the NHS, and on the lives of patients and their families,” said Professor Sir Stephen Powis, national medical director of NHS England.The true impact of this action will be even greater as we move into September because of the extraordinary cumulative effect of more than nine months of disruption, which poses a huge challenge for the health service as staff work tirelessly to address. This strike took place during a bank holiday weekend, when NHS activity is typically lower.
After announcing that consultants would receive a 6% raise, the Government asserted that compensation negotiations are now over.
The BMA called the raise “insulting” and asserted that consultants have seen a “35% pay erosion” over the past 14 years.
On September 19 and 20, as well as October 2, 3, and 4, consultants are scheduled to strike once more.
Doctors will continue to give “Christmas Day cover,” which means that emergency care will continue to be supplied, as they did during prior consultant walkouts.
The Junior Doctors Committee of the BMA is re-polling its members to determine whether they still want to go on strike.