More than 100,000 hospital appointments had to be rescheduled during the longest-ever joint strike by junior doctors and consultants in England.
Some 118,026 inpatient and outpatient appointments in England were rescheduled as a result of the industrial action by British Medical Association (BMA) which took place from October 2-5.
Junior doctors and consultants walked out together for a second spell of co-ordinated industrial action from 7am on Monday until 7am Thursday.
At the peak of strike action on Tuesday 27,137 staff were absent due to industrial action, NHS England said.
Since strikes began in December 2022, 1,133,093 acute inpatient and outpatient appointments have been cancelled or postponed, the NHS said.
Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said the co-ordinated strike action and the BMA’s “hard-line stance on providing strike day cover” has had a significant impact on patients.
Mr Barclay said: “I share the concerns of NHS leaders about the risk to patient safety posed by so-called ‘Christmas Day cover’ when demand is far higher than at Christmas.
“The frequency of these debilitating strikes is also making it incredibly difficult for services to recover from their effects.
“Doctors have received a fair and reasonable pay rise – as recommended by the independent pay review body, which we’ve accepted in full.
“This means doctors who started their hospital training this year are receiving a 10.3% pay increase, with the average junior doctor getting 8.8% and consultants are receiving a 6% pay rise alongside generous reforms to their pensions – the BMA’s number one ask.”
“The impact goes beyond planned care too, as the focus on patient safety and emergency care means there’s not enough staff to cover other areas, which can slow down discharge and take clinicians away from their usual work.
“It has been particularly difficult this week as we had little time to recover from the last round of action and as we approach the winter period, when we are under significantly more pressure, strikes are increasingly challenging.”