11:47am Friday 22nd June 2012
By Melanie Adams
IT WAS a day of action that some feared would leave patients without vital medical care and treatment.
But it soon became clear yesterday it was business as usual for the majority of doctors across the south.
At Southampton General Hospital fewer than ten appointments were cancelled – and an exclusive Daily Echo poll of 85 GP surgeries revealed that just 16 per cent took part in the national protest against pension plans.
Of those asked if their surgery was taking part in the day of action, 13 confirmed they had doctors stopping all non-urgent care, while one practice suspended some non-urgent care, but still saw those patients who had booked routine appointments more than ten days ago.
Eleven surgeries declined to comment at all.
Nationally it was a similar picture, with figures suggesting one in ten patients had their operations, outpatient appointments or treatments rescheduled due to the British Medical Association’s (BMA) industrial action.
Meanwhile the Department of Health said a quarter of GP surgeries operated a reduced service due to the day of action, with about 2,000 surgeries having at least one member of staff taking part.
They claimed just eight per cent of doctors working in the NHS in England took part, totalling around 11,500 doctors.
Health bosses in our region confirmed there was very little disruption to patient care at both Southampton General Hospital and the Royal Hampshire County Hospital, Winchester, as well as in GP surgeries.
Hampshire Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the Royal Hampshire County Hospital, said no cancellations had to be made yesterday as a result of the action and chiefs at Southampton added that fewer than ten operations were affected out of the 200 performed daily.
Dr Stuart Ward, medical director for the Southampton, Hampshire, Isle of Wight and Portsmouth primary care trust cluster, said most NHS provision had been unaffected, with minimal impact on patient care.
He added: “All GP surgeries were open as normal, and at the very least provided urgent care.
“However, with more than 85 per cent not taking part in the industrial action the overwhelming majority did provide all their usual services without any disruption whatsoever.
“Where action has been taken across the whole of the local health economy, minimal inconvenience has been caused to patients.
“NHS South of England, which oversees the health service over the entire region, has reported no serious operational difficulties as a result of the BMA action, thanks to the efforts of staff and helpful cooperation of patients.
“Hospitals across the region have worked well to inform patients of any possible disruption or cancellation of non-urgent appointments.”
The day of action by members of the British Medical Association included GPs, consultant doctors and junior doctors. As it was not a strike, all doctors were expected to turn up for work if rostered to work but were only engaged in emergency and urgent work.
The BMA argues that higher-paid NHS staff already pay proportionately more for their pension than most other public sector workers.
They say doctors currently at the start of their careers would be hardest hit, having to pay hundreds of thousands of pounds extra – double what they would have paid – in lifetime pensions contributions.
Additional reporting by Bethan Phillips and Lewis Wedgwood
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