Health bosses in Sunderland say they are putting plans in place to deal with a five day strike by junior doctors.
The British Medical Association has confirmed that junior doctors in England will take further industrial action.
The trust is putting plans in placeCity Hospitals Sunderland
They will stage a full withdrawal of labour for five days, between the hours of 8am and 5pm from Monday, September 12, to Friday, September 16, and this will be followed by further dates, which have yet to be confirmed.
The move follows a vote by junior doctors in July to reject the proposed changes to their contracts.
The BMA says despite attempts over the past two months to work constructively with the government, they are refusing to acknowledge junior doctors’ concerns and continuing with plans to impose the contract in October.
A spokesman for City Hospitals Sunderland, said they are currently monitoring the situation.
She said: “This strike action is obviously over a longer time period than any previous action.
“The trust is putting plans in place to ensure that patients continue to receive a high quality, safe service.
“At this stage, it is difficult to confirm the numbers of anticipated cancellations. We will, however, be doing everything that we can to minimise the disruption and inconvenience to patients.”
Katherine Murphy, Chief Executive of The Patients Association, said: “We are gravely troubled by the new round of strikes planned and the catastrophic impact this will have on so many patients and their families.
“We are approaching winter and it is well documented that the cold weather brings with it additional challenges to tackle poor health. Combine winter pressures with an already stretched NHS, alongside a series of extended strike action and it will almost certainly result in a NHS crisis.
“The Patients Association agree that seven-day service would be beneficial for patients, but it must be fully funded. To deliver such ambitious plans requires significant financial investment and robust work force planning.”
She said she strongly urges the Department of Health to resume meaningful and sincere consultations and negotiations with the junior doctors.
Key concerns raised by junior doctors include the impact that the contract will have on those working less than full time, a majority of whom are women, and the impact it will have on junior doctors working the most weekends, typically in specialties where there is already a shortage of doctors.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt branded the decision “totally irresponsible” and the General Medical Council (GMC) insisted patient need must be the priority.