Patients and passers-by showed solidarity with junior doctors picketing outside Huddersfield and Calderdale hospitals during the first doctors’ strike in 40 years.

Motorists beeped their horns in support of junior doctors protesting outside Huddersfield Royal Infirmary, Calderdale Royal Hospital, Halifax and Dewsbury District Hospital.

Meanwhile, patients and passers-by gave the thumbs up and words of encouragement to BMA members protesting about new contracts which will dramatically change their ‘normal’ working hours.

The strike, which will last until 8am on Wednesday, is the first of three including a strike next month where junior doctors will walk out of accident and emergency departments for nine hours.

Video thumbnail, Staff picket outside Calderdale Royal Hospital
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Thousands of appointments have been cancelled across the country as a result of the ongoing dispute between the doctors’ union, the BMA, and Health Minister Jeremy Hunt.

Outside Huddersfield Royal Hospital (HRI) and Calderdale Royal Hospital (CRH) senior colleagues and other hospital staff also chatted with the junior doctors while some even brought the demonstrators tea and cakes.

Those on strike said they would rather be working but felt the new contracts would lead to pay cuts of up to 40% and would make hospitals unsafe.

Pooja Bijoor, who works at HRI, said: “We had hoped it wouldn’t come to this but we have been backed into a corner and forced into this position.

“We apologise for any disruption – that was not our intention – but we want to show the new contracts are unsafe for patients and unfair on doctors.

“I’d be in theatre this morning and in clinic this afternoon and I would have much preferred to have done that than be standing out in the cold doing this.”

Some accused Conservative Mr Hunt of conducting a ‘disgraceful’ campaign of misinformation over social media rather than negotiating with the doctors themselves.

Junior Doctor's 24 hour strike - Pickets outside Calderdale Royal Hospital, Halifax.

Ciaran O’Neill, a junior surgeon at CRH, said: “The Government has handled this disgracefully.

“Jeremy Hunt seems to have conducted this through social media rather than through the NHS and the doctors.

READ MORE: Huddersfield junior doctor: "new contracts will lead to dangerously understaffed wards"

“He has twisted statistics for a particular end and it’s irresponsible and scaremongering.”

Others accused the minister of deliberately running down the NHS.

HRI junior doctor Callan Robinson-Lynch said: “The Government has already started dismantling the NHS and this is just part of it.”