MEDICS’ strikes - which have sent shockwaves through accident and emergency departments - run the risk of worsening patients’ conditions after it was revealed less than two-thirds of arrivals were seen at Barnsley Hospital within a four-hour NHS target.
Junior doctors, who make up almost half of the full-time doctors working at the hospital, went on strike for four days last week - and it’s now been revealed 8,104 people showed up to the hospital’s A and E in March alone.
That was a rise of nine per cent on the 7,405 visits recorded during February and doctors’ strikes - due to an ongoing dispute over pay - have been labelled ‘extremely disruptive’ amid the demand.
Healthcare think-tank Nuffield Trust expressed concerns over patients’ care and warned significant risks are being posed.
A spokesperson said: “These doctors are a vital part of the workforce, central to day-to-day medical management in and outside hospitals and at the core of the basic services the NHS offers.
“There is also a risk that the people who need treatment most urgently are not being effectively prioritised and this could lead to worsening conditions and a greater need for care further down the line.”
A total of 378 patients waited longer than four hours for treatment following a decision to admit, equating to five per cent of all patients, while one of those was forced to wait longer than 12 hours.
Professor Stephen Powis, NHS national medical director for England, added: “The last few months have been demanding for the NHS as record numbers of patients have come forward for care on top of hugely disruptive strike action.
“So while there is no let-up for services it remains as vital as ever that the public continue to come forward for care when they need it, using 999 in an emergency and using 111 online and making use of the expertise of pharmacies, GPs and community services for less urgent needs.”
Barnsley Hospital bosses confirmed the strikes have had a ‘significant impact’ on services and said any cancelled appointments would be immediately rescheduled.
A spokesperson said: “We expected there will have been significant delays in the emergency department as patients will be seen according to their immediate needs.
“The days leading into and immediately after bank holiday weekends are already challenging for the NHS, Barnsley Hospital being no exception.
“These strikes came at a time when high levels of staff are on annual leave due to school Easter holidays.
“Previous industrial action by junior doctors over three days saw 175,000 hospital appointments disrupted nationwide.
“Junior doctors make around half of all doctors in the NHS - they are qualified doctors who have anywhere up to eight years’ experience working as a hospital doctor, depending on their specialty, or up to three years in general practice.
“This industrial action had a significant impact on hospital services but teams have been working hard to minimise the impact, but some procedures were regrettably cancelled as a result.”