Seventy operations and 497 appointments at Blackpool Victoria Hospital have been cancelled ahead of the first all-out strike by junior doctors in NHS history.
Doctors up to consultant level will refuse to work in emergency care, including A&E, the maternity unit, emergency surgery, and intensive care, from 8am until 5pm both today and tomorrow.
The walk-out comes as a row with the government over contracts continues.
Hospital bosses said it is now ‘imperative’ patients consider alternatives, as they revealed attendance at A&E went up during previous strikes, when doctors were on hand to provide emergency cover only.
Director of operations Pat Oliver said: “Patients are seen in a clinical need order and this can mean some people have to wait longer than others. To offer safe, effective care we must prioritise the most clinically urgent cases.
“We don’t want to stop people who really need to use A&E from attending, but we remind patients it is for emergencies.”
Alternatives include the Walk-In Centre on Whitegate Drive, Blackpool, the Same Day Health Centre in Dock Street, Fleetwood, or their local GP, pharmacy, or dentist.
Why junior doctors are walking out
Junior doctors in England are objecting to a proposed new contract, which the government said will create a truly seven-day NHS.
The doctors – up to consultant level – are currently paid more for working unsocial hours at night or at the weekend. Under the new contracts, Saturday day shifts will be paid at a normal rate in return for more basic pay.
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said he will impose the contracts after talks with the British Medical Association (BMA) failed.
The BMA said it would call off the strike if the government backtracked on the imposition, but last-ditch talks failed.