NHS doctors industrial action – our response

Patients across England face cancelled appointments or delayed operations due to the ongoing junior doctors strikes.

Responding, our Director, Stephen Heard, said:

“We believe that the solution to ongoing industrial action needs to be patient-focused, and with a view to resuming and recovering services as soon as possible. At Healthwatch Camden we put patients and residents at the heart of everything we do, and residents deserve to be given confidence and reassurance that services will not deteriorate and that their health and care needs can be met by their NHS.

“Every day without a resolution means another day where Camden residents and patients are left worrying about further delays to appointments and operations. The public need to be given confidence that care will continue at a high standard, and their views and concerns are both seen and heard.

“It isn’t for Healthwatch Camden to choose a side, and we understand how complicated the situation is, however further service disruptions will only add to the complications. Therefore, we urge all parties to find a resolution that puts patients’ needs first as quickly as possible.”

Supporting patients during strike action

Last November, Healthwatch England shared four steps that the NHS could take during industrial action to help provide people with clarity and ensure safety is maintained.

  1. Preventing public confusion: Clear and accessible communications to the public at a local level is critical. Patients need to know when strike action is happening and which services are and are not be affected. Communications should be available in accessible formats to make sure the most vulnerable people are not excluded.
  2. Make clear lifesaving help is available: Patients need to understand that life-preserving care is protected, and what kind of care falls into this category.
  3. Supporting people if care is delayed: If planned appointments or operations are postponed, the NHS must ensure it gives patients and carers as much notice of the changes as possible. They must contact all patients to rebook care or let them know when they can expect a new date for care. They also must tell people about support available while they wait.
  4. Clear contingency plans: With strike action likely to affect local areas in different ways, it’s essential that local contingency plans are in place and the NHS shares these plans with local partners so they can help support the public.