Doctors strike ‘won’t put patients at risk’

PATIENTS have been assured that Thursday’s NHS strike will not compromise their safety under guidance issued by the British Medical Association.

A set of principles was agreed with the BMA last week to mitigate the effects of the strike on users of NHS services.

The guidelines deal with issues including the prompt notification of patients of any cancellations, the availability of medical staff, and the types of emergency and urgent care provided at hospitals and GP practices. The scheduled industrial action is a reaction to changes to the NHS pension scheme – currently planned by the UK government and likely to also include Scotland. It will mark the first time doctors have gone on strike in almost 40 years.

The proposed new regulations would see staff forced to contribute nearly 10 per cent more to their pensions, and the retirement age increase by three years to 68. Last week, the Carrick Gazette reported that GP practices in Ayrshire and Arran will remain open for their normal working hours on Thursday, but some may only offer urgent and emergency appointments. But Ayrshire residents are encouraged to contact their GP practices as normal should they require healthcare assistance tomorrow.

Patricia Leiser, Director of Organisation at NHS Ayrshire and Arran, assured The Gazette that those with outpatient or non-urgent appointments would be contacted where rescheduling is necessary, and did not need to contact their GPs or hospitals themselves.

She added: “We are committed to working together in a spirit of trust and shared responsibility, to ensure that industrial action does not affect patient safety.”

BMA council chairman Hamish Meldrum said: “We know that doctors are making huge efforts to plan ahead and ensure patients’ safety is not affected by the day of action.”