Hospital bosses are drawing up plans to cope with industrial action by junior doctors which is due to begin later this month.
The British Medical Association (BMA) announced three spells of strike action, with junior doctors providing emergency care only from 8am on Tuesday, January 12, followed by a 48-hour stoppage and the provision of emergency care only from 8am on Tuesday, January 26, and a full withdrawal of labour from 8am to 5pm on Wednesday, February 10.
A City Hospitals Sunderland NHS trust spokeswoman said: “The trust, in line with the whole NHS, has tried and tested plans to deal with a range of disruptions, including industrial action, and we are reviewing these plans in light of the national junior doctor ballot results.
“At this point in time, we are unclear how many junior doctors in the trust will participate in strike action.
“We will be doing everything we can to minimise the impact on our patients but, inevitably, it may mean that some planned admissions are postponed and those in less urgent need of care may experience longer waiting times than normal.
“In all cases, priority will be given to those patients with the most pressing health needs.”
The Government has offered a deal which will see an 11% rise in basic pay for junior doctors, but staff are upset that the rise will be offset by cuts to the number of “unsocial” weekend hours for which they can claim extra pay.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the door was still open for talks but BMA chairman Dr Mark Porter insisted the Government would have to go “further” than it had been willing to so far.