Operations cancelled in doctors day of protest

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OPERATIONS and appointments at Eastbourne DGH had to be cancelled as doctors staged a day of industrial action yesterday (Thursday).

Around 28 operations at Eastbourne DGH and The Conquest in Hastings were called off, as well as 145 outpatient appointments.

However, patients attending GP surgeries in Eastbourne were unaffected. Just two practices – Arlington Road Surgery and the Bolton House Surgery – notified NHS Sussex they would be supporting the strike but were open to patients.

Dr Paul Frisby, from the Arlington Road Medical Practice, said it had been a quiet day but added, “Everyone who was supposed to be at work today was here. While we unanimously support the industrial action, patient care is paramount.”

“No-one has been turned away from the practice today.”

Grove Road Surgery did not take part but put a notice on its door saying while doctors were supporting the British Medical Association’s objections and were sympathetic, they would be open as usual.

The Arlington Road practice and the surgery in Bolton Road were included in the five per cent of surgeries nationally to take part in the industrial action.

The BMA called the strike in protest at Government through changes to doctors’ pensions who see them as unfair and unnecessary.

The plans would see a new career average pension scheme for all doctors, increases to contribution levels, with some doctors having to pay 14.5 per cent of their salary by 2014, and an increase in the normal retirement age to 67.

A spokesperson for NHS Sussex said 13 of the GP practices across the county were involved in the industrial action but none were closed outright.

The spokesperson explained the surgeries may have had a scaled down service or asked patients with routine non-emergency problems to return the next day in some cases.

A spokesman for East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs the Conquest Hospital and Eastbourne DGH, said a few doctors took part in today’s action but all patients needing emergency treatment were still seen.

He said operations that had to be postponed were non-emergency ones.