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RCEM statement on upcoming industrial action by junior doctors

6 April 2023

Commenting on the upcoming industrial action by junior doctors, Dr Adrian Boyle, President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said:

“We understand and recognise the serious challenges in Emergency Medicine and the pressures that our junior colleagues and peers face. We believe that all health workers should feel valued, respected, supported, and heard. We know that there is a serious retention crisis in the health service and existing staff are stretched more than ever before and are working in ever-increasingly-difficult conditions. Too many people are staying too long in emergency departments; this is dangerous and undignified.

“Our members and colleagues have an individual right to take industrial action as appropriate. Political leaders must recognise the challenges and difficult conditions facing staff. We hope that a resolution can be found imminently. We also urge the government to include SAS doctors as well as trainees in any negotiations, resolution or deal that is made. They are an equally crucial part of the workforce and must be valued as such.

“While strikes may disrupt Emergency Care and pose a risk for patient safety, patient safety has long been at risk as a result of years of under-resourcing, under-funding, lack of staff, lack of beds, and inadequate and insufficient community and social care. Staff deserve better and so do patients. Every effort must be made to retain our competent and valuable staff in the health service, working on the frontline and delivering for patients.

“Patients should continue to seek help in the usual way if they have a medical emergency but should expect longer stays and a disrupted service.

“If any Emergency Medicine clinicians and professionals think their service is becoming unsafe, for whatever reason, they should escalate their concerns through their hospital administration in the usual way. This is normally through the Clinical Lead, Medical Director and the Chief Operating Officer. While derogations are currently limited to Mass Casualty Incidents, there are regular meetings between Trusts, NHS England and local BMA teams to review the situation.”

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