Seven out of ten say doctor strikes put patients in danger

Seven in 10 people fear strikes by NHS staff are endangering patients and the majority do not support walk-outs by doctors.

A survey for the Daily Express found 58 percent would be less likely to seek care when industrial action is taking place.

The findings come ahead of another four-day strike by junior doctors, starting at 7am on Friday.

Some 41 percent of 2,000 adults quizzed by OnePoll last month supported the trainee medics’ decision to down tools over pay, while 34 percent were opposed.

However, support for consultants was much lower, with 34 percent supportive and 41 percent opposed.

READ MORE Confidence in NHS falls sharply as backlogs and strikes take their toll

Rachel Power, boss of the Patients Association, said her group respects the right of NHS workers to strike.

But she added: “People are fearful of falling ill and needing care because they know how stretched services are. Patient safety is at risk, staff members are exhausted, and social care is unable to provide services people need.”

Following our survey health minister Will Quince said: “The public wants an end to these damaging and disruptive strikes at a time when the NHS is putting everything into busting the backlogs and cutting waiting times for patients.

“It is vital people who need it still come forward for care during industrial action – the NHS plans rigorously to protect urgent and emergency care, as well as prioritise patients who have waited longest for elective care.”

Mr Quince added doctors in training were getting typically an 8.8 percent rise while consultants received 6%.

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He said: “This award is final and we call on unions to put patients first and call off strikes.”

Some 34 percent strongly agreed that strikes by NHS staff put patients in danger, while a further 35 percent agreed. Just over a fifth were neutral and only 9 percent disagreed.

Pressure will be even higher during this weekend’s strike after the High Court ruled that employers cannot use agency staff to fill gaps.

Hospitals can use their own bank staff but health chiefs warned many are on summer leave.

Matthew Taylor, boss of the NHS Confederation, said a resolution to the bitter dispute was desperately needed so services could focus on targets such as clearing waiting lists.

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He added: “This situation is unsustainable, and it is clear that patients are becoming frustrated. With more strikes to come later in August during a crucial time where the NHS begins preparations for the tough winter months, leaders are increasingly pessimistic about their ability to meet recovery targets, the impact on patient care, and the toll it is taking on NHS finances.”

Almost 835,000 appointments have been delayed due to industrial action since December. NHS England says for around 450 hours services were without a third of their workforce in four previous junior doctor strikes.

However, NHS Providers warned the true impact could be twice as high because many hospitals stop booking appointments once strike dates are announced.

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