The latest round of industrial action by junior doctors has cost hospitals in east and north Hertfordshire, including Mount Vernon Cancer Centre, an estimated £2.6m, according to NHS Trust chiefs.
Junior doctors are currently locked in a nationwide dispute over pay – amid claims wages have effectively dropped by more than a quarter since 2008. As part of the ongoing industrial action, junior doctors took strike action for three days in December and six days earlier this month (January).
That had an impact on hospitals services across the country – leading to cancelled operations, procedures and appointments. In addition to the impact on waiting lists, hospital chiefs are now counting the financial costs of the strike action locally.
Papers to be presented to the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust on Wednesday (17 January) put the cost to them at almost £2.6m. The Trust includes the Lister, QEII and Hertford County hospitals, as well as the Mount Vernon Cancer Centre in Northwood.
According to the report the cost of cover over the nine day of strikes was £705,000. There were, it says, £196,000 costs in ‘lost efficiency’ and a £1.98m impact of ‘reduction in elective activity.
However these costs, according to the report, were reduced by £297,000 due to avoided ‘on the day costs’. Overall that totals a cost to the Trust of £2.58m.
According to the report, in November the Trust had been predicting a £0.7m deficit by the end of the 23/24 financial year, which ends at the end of March. As a result of the industrial action they have revised that estimate to a deficit of £3.3m. And they say that forecast ‘assumes no further periods of industrial action in the remaining weeks of 23/24’.
Aside from the financial impact, the industrial action is also highlighted in a written report by the Trust chief executive Adam Sewell-Jones.
In his regular report to the board, he notes that industrial action had taken place over the Christmas and New Year period. He said: “Our main priority during the industrial action is to ensure that patients receive emergency and lifesaving care when needed.
“Thanks to the efforts of other clinical and administrative staff we were able to maintain safe services during this period as well as continuing with as much planned activity as we could, however it was sadly inevitable that some planned activity had to again be cancelled.”