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Saturday, 19 April 2014

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GPs across Cumbria set to strike

Doctors across Cumbria are due to go on strike this week as part of a national day of action over pensions.

NHS bosses insist that essential services will run as normal, but many patients may find non-urgent appointments are postponed.

Members of the British Medical Association (BMA), including many GPs and hospital doctors, will take part in the strike on Thursday.

It is not known exactly how many doctors in the county will take part, however the BMA has made a commitment to protect patient safety and ensure that emergency and urgent care continues.

For example, A&E departments and maternity services will run as normal, and tests for critical conditions such as cancer will be still available.

GP practices also will remain open but some may postpone routine appointments which can be safely rearranged for another day. Practices will contact individual patients affected.

However, NHS Cumbria says some non-emergency hospital clinics, outpatient appointments and planned surgery may be postponed.

Bosses stress that this will only occur where appointments can be safely rearranged to take place on another day.

Where appointments are postponed, the health authority says plans are in place to ensure patients’ are informed as soon as possible and dates rescheduled quickly.

Other than those doctors involved in providing emergency and urgent care, doctors are under no obligation to tell their employers in advance that they intend to take part in the industrial action.

The planned strike – in opposition to increases to pension contributions and a later retirement age for doctors – will be the profession’s first for nearly 40 years.

In a ballot of 104,000 BMA members, the majority voted in favour of the action.

But the plans have been condemned by Health secretary Andrew Lansley.

He estimates that nationally up to 30,000 operations may have to be cancelled, 58,000 diagnostic tests postponed and 200,000 outpatient appointments rescheduled.

But the BMA insists THAT the action is necessary and stresses that patient safety will remain their priority.

Other health unions, such as the British Dental Association, Royal College of Midwives, Royal College of Nursing, Unite and the GMB – are not part of the action.

During the action Cumbria’s out-of-hours GP service will continue to operate as normal. However NHS Cumbria is urging the public to think carefully before visiting their GP, A&E department or other NHS service on this day.

For everyday and minor illnesses, such as coughs, colds, stomach aches, aches and sprains, it is instead encourage people to consider using their local high-street pharmacy in the first instance.

The NHS Choices website www.nhs.uk also has information about self-treating these types of condition.

Dental services will not be affected, while urgent mental health care will continue to be provided in the county.

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