MORE than 1,500 appointments and operations have been cancelled by Barnsley Hospital because of NHS staff members’ strike action over the last year, new figures have revealed.
Due to the latest strike action, which occurred between September 19 and 23, Barnsley Hospital bosses were left with no choice but to cancel 169 appointments or operations over the five-day period as a direct result of strike action by NHS staff.
It means the total number of treatments cancelled grew to 1,566 over the last year.
Strikes have been conducted by various NHS staff members including consultants, junior doctors, nurses and ambulance workers - including this week.
It comes as the number of inpatient and outpatient appointments and operations cancelled due to strikes across England surpassed one million following the first co-ordinated strike by junior doctors and consultants in history earlier this month.
Health Secretary Steve Barclay said: “Nationally over one million appointments have been cancelled as a result of strikes, with co-ordinated and calculated industrial action by the BMA creating further disruption and misery for patients and NHS colleagues.
“Regrettably, the BMA is threatening to escalate strike action again, which would mean the number of cancellations rising further and adding to the pressures on health services as we head into winter.”
Mr Barclay said medics have ‘received a fair and reasonable pay rise as recommended by the independent pay review bodies’.
He added: “Those who started their hospital training this year are receiving a 10.3 per cent pay increase, with the average junior doctor getting 8.8 per cent and consultants are receiving a six per cent pay rise alongside generous reforms to their pensions, which was the BMA’s number one ask.
“My door is always open to discuss how we can work together with NHS staff to improve their working lives, but this pay award is final so I urge unions to end this damaging disruption.”
Professor Phil Banfield, council chairman of the BMA, said the government has not acknowledged the ‘cost and value of medical care’ - and said it must improve the recruitment and retention of doctors.
He added: “The longer the government buries its head in the sand, the more both strikes and waiting lists cost the public purse.
“It’s a no-brainer to invest in the future of the NHS workforce, rather than waste further money refusing to pitch a credible pay offer.
“Our door has been open for over a year and we hope for the sake of our patients that the government eventually listens.”
NHS England figures also show 21,618 patients were waiting for non-urgent elective operations or treatment at the Gawber Road site at the end of July - down slightly from 21,770 in June, but an increase on 18,155 in July 2022.
Of those, 181 had been waiting for longer than a year and the median waiting time from referral at an NHS trust to treatment at Barnsley Hospital was ten weeks at the end of July - the same as in June.
A hospital spokesperson said: “When consultants take strike action they stop delivering care directly or providing supervision of the work of junior staff.
“Without supervision it may not be possible for some care delivered by junior doctors or other staff to take place safely.
“Our consultants have committed to ensure emergency services remain in place with staffing levels similar to those in place on Christmas Day.
“This will ensure that emergency care will continue to be provided.
“During strike action we will prioritise resources to protect emergency treatment, critical care, neonatal care, maternity and trauma.
“We will only reschedule appointments and procedures where it is necessary, and will rebook immediately where possible.
“Unfortunately, these strikes will have a significant impact upon planned and routine care.
“We thank you for your patience and understanding, and would like to reassure you that, as always, patient safety remains our absolute priority throughout the trust.”