Responding to the latest NHS data showing the impact of joint industrial action from junior doctors and consultants, Rory Deighton director of the acute network at the NHS Confederation said:
"The recent wave of co-ordinated industrial action by consultants and junior doctors has put health leaders and their teams backs against the wall in trying to minimise disruption, with cancelled appointments reaching the grim milestone of 1 million as a result of walkouts.
"We knew that this first ever joint strike action would create a high risk to patients as well as a higher number of appointments and operations being cancelled. The figures prove the effect it is having on public health and the growing concern coming out of these strikes continues to be the long-term impact, getting back on track in with reducing waiting lists, improving staff morale and boosting patient satisfaction.
"The data today however will not show the true cost in terms of money and even cancellations, with strikes estimated to cost more than £1bn already and rising. This will hit already stretched NHS budgets and if this continues, it will either increase deficits or lead to cutbacks elsewhere. As well as this we know that the true scale of the cancelled appointments could be much higher, with the official figures only recording cancellations on the day. NHS trusts now routinely pre-empt the strikes by not filling slots that could otherwise be used for elective activity. Meaning operations and appointments are often not being booked in, so our members are telling us that the true impact is much higher, perhaps as much as double what the figures show.
"As public frustration and cancelled appointments grows ahead of what is looking like a bleak winter, the government and the BMA must talk to each other to find a solution that brings an end to this prolonged war of attrition."