Junior doctors working at local hospitals have spoken of their ‘relief’ after industrial action was called off at the last minute.
The doctors were due to walk out of all but emergency departments of Huddersfield Royal Infirmary and Calderdale Royal Hospital, Halifax, in protest against proposed contracts which will change their shift patterns.
But the strike was called off on Monday night after a temporary agreement was reached between Government officials, the British Medical Association (BMA) and NHS Employers .
Some patients of both hospitals suffered disruption as ‘a small number’ of operations and around 400 appointments were cancelled.
However, medical director for the hospitals, David Birkenhead, said some of the operations and around 80% of the appointments were reinstated once the strike had been called off.
Mr Birkenhead said: “In preparation for the junior doctors’ industrial action the trust undertook significant steps to ensure we could continue to care safely for our patients in our hospitals should the action have taken place.
“We had contacted patients on Monday to cancel a small number of operations and around 400 clinic appointments.
“Once the strike was called off we were able to re-instate a number of the operations and run around 80% of our clinics as normal.”
Mr Birkenhead added: “We would wish to thank our patients for bearing with us and thank all of our staff, including the junior doctors and the union representatives for responding in a professional manner to minimise the impact on our patients.”
Among the departments affected was the ear, nose and throat (ENT) department at Calderdale Royal Hospital (CRH).
Junior doctor Pooja Bijoor went to work at the department as usual, although a clinic was cancelled.
Dr Bijoor, 30, said: “We’re quite relieved – no-one wanted to be in this position.
“None of us envisaged ourselves striking. Unfortunately we have been pushed into that corner.”
Doctors’ union the British Medical Association (BMA) has been locked in a battle with Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt over the new contracts which come into effect in August.
Junior doctors were also due to walk out of all hospital departments on December 8 and 16 over concerns the new contracts would lead to longer, unsafe hours and reduced overall pay.
Dr Bijoor added: “I’m trying to be optimistic. Jeremy Hunt has realised there’s an issue but I’m slightly anxious that it might just be a stalling tactic.”
Also ready to strike was Dr Henna Anwar, of Birkby, who works at Calderdale Royal Hospital .
Dr Anwar said: “I’m relieved because it’s against what we believe in and I just hope that we move forward and get some negotiations rather than having a contract imposed on us.”
Nationally thousands of patients suffered disruption as clinics and operations were cancelled in anticipation of the walk-out.
A snapshot survey of almost 20 NHS trusts – less than fifth of the country’s trusts – revealed that around 600 operations and procedures were cancelled alongside around 3,500 outpatient appointments.