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NHS head says strikes by junior doctors will hit patient care

NHS junior doctors' rally in Manchester

NHS England Chief Executive Amanda Pritchard has cautioned that the ongoing junior doctors' strikes will inevitably affect patient care.

She said the industrial action announced this week was at the top of the health service’s “worry list”.

NHS Providers estimate the walkouts have already cost the health service £2 billion in lost income. 

Read More: Junior Doctors In England Announce 9 Day Strike As Pay Talks Falter

Ms Pritchard called the strike announcement “disappointing.” 

She noted the progress in reducing the record waiting list during a brief respite from strikes amid ongoing talks between unions and the government

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She said strikes come at a challenging time as winter is the busiest period for the NHS as it tussles with a rise in seasonal viruses.

Hospital doctors have spent nearly 800 hours on strike this year, “almost a 10th of a full year,” Ms Pritchard said.

The NHS England head called last winter the “worst” in her health service career.

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However, she noted that the “immediate focus” is prioritising patient safety during the strikes.

She said: "Industrial action announced this week by the BMA is top of everyone’s minds and worry lists.

"Both here as a board but right across the NHS.

"Since the board last met there have been no strikes, as ministers and the trade unions have been in discussions about reaching a pay settlement.

"It is worth noting that since the last set of strikes, we have seen improvement every single week in reducing long waits for patients.”

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