Around 120 patients have had appointments at Peterborough City Hospital rescheduled due to the first day of a strike by junior doctors.
With 15 outpatient clinics affected industrial action on Tuesday (December 1) patients are being called to tell them that their appointment has been moved.
Strike action nationally was approved by 98 per cent of junior doctors who were balloted, with 99 per cent in favour of taking action just short of a full strike, as they continue to protest against a new contract from the government.
Peterborough City Hospital has 465 doctors of which 255 are junior doctors.
The first day of walk-outs takes place from 8am on December 1 to 8am on December 2 (with junior doctors to staff emergency care), 8am to 5pm on December 8 (full strike) and 8am to 5pm on December 16 (full strike).
Dr Kanchan Rege, medical director at the Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Our junior doctors have made us aware of their intention to take industrial action on Tuesday 1 December.
“However, in line with the national action announced by the British Medical Association, our junior doctors will provide emergency cover on that day.
“As part of our contingency planning, we have been liaising with all areas of the Trust to review clinic and surgery lists for all identified days of action to see what can be safely managed using consultants only.
“Some clinic appointments have been cancelled, however we are hoping to cancel very few planned procedures and operations. We will keep patients informed of any changes as plans are finalised.
“Any patients who have their appointments cancelled will be rescheduled as soon as possible.
“Our priority has to be our patients’ safety during this period of disruption. We remain committed to providing high quality, safe care at all times.”
As of last Friday, the hospital had not cancelled any planned operations or procedures.
In a group statement, 14 junior doctors working in Peterborough have set out to explain why they are going on strike.
They said: “The new contracts will remove safeguards that prevent doctors working unsafe hours. Currently, if hospitals are found to be overworking doctors they get fined. If these penalties are removed, doctors can be overworked. Tired doctors are dangerous.
“The new contract penalises doctors for taking breaks in training i.e. maternity leave.
“We do not know how our salary will be affected. We are facing significant pay cuts overall despite reports of basic pay rises. Doctors are not as well paid as people think. The basic salary for a starting doctor is £22,636.
“If this contract goes through despite all the protest, it would be easier to change the contracts of any of the other professionals working in hospitals.
“Many doctors have applied to leave the country due to the contract changes. The NHS will not function without its staff members. Losing even a small amount of staff of them would have dire consequences.”
Asked if the strike was unfair to patients, they added: “We are only striking because we feel we have no other option. Doctors have written to MPs, the Health Minister and the Prime Minister. “We have staged protests - the largest in London involved tens of thousands of people.
“Still, the government is going to force through the contracts which we believe will compromise patient care.
“We are doing this for the long-term safety of patients. In terms of the strike emergency cover will be provided. People who need help will get it and should not avoid seeking medical attention.
“We are sorry for the disruption caused to individual patients and hope they understand why we felt it necessary to take industrial action.”