• NHS England chief executive warns “no good will come of strikes” and patients’ safety cannot be guaranteed

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens has waded into the junior doctors’ strike row, warning that “no good for patients” will come from the proposed strikes and that patient safety cannot be guaranteed if they go ahead.

Addressing a question about the proposed strike action by junior doctors, he told the Health and Care Innovation Expo conference in Manchester today: “It is not just about the notice period, it is about the impact that that action will have…No good for patients will come out of the kind of action that is still on the table.

“We should be in no doubt that it will not be possible to ensure there will be no harm to patients even with several weeks’ notice, if we really are talking about multiple weeks of up to 50,000 doctors not being available for emergency care.”

NHS England had yesterday evening received fresh assessments from trusts on what the impact would be of proposed strike action, but full analysis of it had not yet been completed, he said.

Mr Stevens’ intervention follows the British Medical Association announcing on Monday that it was suspending next week’s planned strike action, saying it had been told by NHS England that services “cannot cope with the notice period” that was given.

Last Wednesday, the union announced a five-day walkout starting on Monday 12 September was cancelled. Five days of strike action are still planned for each of October, November and December. The planned dates are:

  • 5, 6 and 7 October and the 10 and 11 of October;
  • 14-18 November; and
  • 5-9 December.

Mr Stevens was questioned at the event about sustainability and transformation plans. He said NHS England would next week publish a document setting out its expectations for public engagement and consultation on STPs, which have been accused of secrecy in recent weeks. Local STP leaders have previously been discouraged from publishing their draft proposals by NHS England officials.

Stevens: Junior doctor strikes risk harm to patients