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Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust prepares for junior doctors' strike

By Joshua Coupe

Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust is reassuring patients that measures are in place to cope with next week's doctors' strike.

Junior doctors will stage a full walkout - including emergency care - from 8am to 5pm on Tuesday, April 26 and Wednesday, April 27, in a dispute over new contracts.

Today, NHS England announced that more than 100,000 patients across the country will be disrupted as a result of the action.

Junior doctors picketing outside Maidstone Hospital. Picture: Martin Apps
Junior doctors picketing outside Maidstone Hospital. Picture: Martin Apps

It says 112,856 outpatient appointments and 12,711 planned operations in the two-week window surrounding the strike will be rearranged.

It will be the first time in the history of the NHS when junior doctors walk out of accident and emergency, urgent maternity services, resuscitation and mental health crisis wards.

The trust, which has hospitals in Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells, says consultants and senior clinical staff will cover emergency care services, but most planned operations will be rescheduled.

Angela Gallagher, the trust’s chief operating officer, said: “We will monitor events very closely during the period to ensure that we have the appropriate cover provided in all areas and we are very grateful for the support and collaborative working from all groups of staff in preparation for this day.”

Maidstone Hospital
Maidstone Hospital

Meanwhile, NHS England has warned ambulance trusts that temporary treatment centres may need to be set up to help cope with demand.

The makeshift wards will be bolstered by efforts to provide extra staff to man the 111 non-emergency phone line, in a bid to reduce the number of patients going to A&E.

GP practices have been told to offer more appointments and plan ahead.

Dr Anne Rainsberry, NHS England national incident director, said: “The NHS exists to care for and treat patients and it is with enormous regret that we find patients put in this position.

Junior doctors previously walked out at Tunbridge Wells Hospital in Pembury
Junior doctors previously walked out at Tunbridge Wells Hospital in Pembury

“We have focussed our efforts on essential services including emergency care but the effects of this action will be felt far and wide with thousands of people having their operations postponed and their care disrupted for which we sincerely apologise.”

Are you a patient who will have treatment disrupted by next week's strike? Get in touch - email messengernews@thekmgroup.co.uk or call 01622 695666.

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