Why do we need junior doctors? Ipswich doctor speaks out as 48-hour strike draws to a close

Junior doctors on strike at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds.

Junior doctors on strike at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds. - Credit: Gregg Brown

With 55,000 junior doctors on strike nationally over the past two days it was feared that the pressure put on hospitals would effect the quality and care of those admitted.

Consultants and other senior doctors have stepped into the breach at Ipswich Hospital and at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds over the past two days and there have been positive reports about the care received.

Mary Brame, whose mother Dulcie Harper, 91, was admitted to A&E in Ipswich at 7.45am yesterday, has confessed her initial reaction was concern.

“I was anxious when I got a phone call saying she had had a fall because I thought the strikes would add a lot of pressure to the service of the hospital. But when we turned up, you wouldn’t have known that there was a shortage of staff. They were all very swift and thorough.”

Mrs Brame continued: “The care and attention she received was impeccable. She was seen straight away and didn’t have to wait for anything. They checked her wellbeing constantly and there was a fantastic level of treatment. We saw doctors and physios regularly going in and out of the room.”

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Mrs Harper was discharged later that day, with no major injuries.

Her daughter added: “People are quick to jump on things if they aren’t living up to their expectations, but not so quick to express when they receive a good service.”

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Junior doctor Sadia Choudhury was pleased to hear that patients had not suffered as a result of the strikes and praised her senior colleagues for filling the void.

She said: “The main reason (that high standards were maintained) was planning. Consultants are supporting us in our decision to strike and were prepared to take on the brunt of the work during these two days.”

She explained that people may even have been seen quicker than they may on a normal working day because the workload was drastically reduced.

More than a hundred operations had been cancelled ahead of the strikes, and appointments postponed in order to reduce workloads. Potential patients had also been encouraged to seek help from their GPs, NHS 111 and thier local pharmacists.

She added: “Also, when I have a patient in A&E, I still have to report to my boss before making a final decision. It’s the consultant that makes the final decision. Therefore during the strikes, the decision doesn’t have to go through two people, just one person.”

She said: “Some people may ask ‘why do we need junior doctors?’

“Junior doctors will one day be consultants and senior doctors. It takes time and education in order to reach that level of experience and judgement. Junior doctors are still in part of their training and are a vital part of the health care industry.”

Jan Ingle, a spokeswomen for the hospital, was pleased that the careful planning and hard work had been recognised.

“We didn’t know what to expect with the amount of patients visiting the hospital because it was the first time a full NHS strike had gone ahead. The staff had thoroughly planned what to do and how to handle the potential influx of patients and it’s great to hear that people had a positive experience at the hospital.”

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