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Heat and strikes piling pressure on NHS – bosses

Patients face major disruption in England this week, NHS bosses are warning, as the latest junior doctor strike coincides with the hottest week of the year.

British Medical Association (BMA) members will stage a five-day walkout from Thursday – the 11th in the long-running pay dispute.

It comes with yellow heat-health alerts in many parts of the country.

NHS England said services would be under significant pressure and urged the public to use them responsibly.

‘Significant pressure’

Medical director Sir Stephen Powis said people should still use 999 for emergencies and NHS 111 for urgent needs.

But planned hospital care, including operations and appointments, will face major disruption, with many patients facing cancellations.

“This new round of strike action will again hit the NHS very hard, with almost all routine care likely to be affected and services put under significant pressure,” Sir Stephen said.

“As ever, we are working to ensure urgent and emergency care is prioritised for patients.

“GP services and pharmacies are also available for patients and can be accessed in the normal way.

“Patients who haven’t been contacted or informed that their planned appointments has been postponed are also urged to attend.”

The hot weather was likely to cause additional pressure, Sir Stephen added.

Heart problems

The UK Health Security Agency yellow alerts indicate the hot weather could pose a risk to those particularly vulnerable.

It can cause heat-stroke and exhaustion as well as worsening respiratory and heart problems.

The BMA wants a 35% rise to compensate for what it says are 15 years of below-inflation pay awards.

The government has called the demands unreasonable.

Junior doctors – nearly half the medical workforce – received a pay rise averaging nearly 9% in the last financial year.

The BMA last year walked out of talks in which an extra 3% pay rise on top was discussed.