Kidney transplant and heart patients have slots cancelled amid junior doctors’ strike – with some forced to wait 15 MONTHS before they are seen for life-changing treatment

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  • Junior doctors today began the longest ever strike in the history of the NHS 
  • NHS bosses fear cancelled operations and appointments this week will hit 200k
  • *** Has YOUR operation or appointment been affected by strike action this week? Email Emily Stearn at Emily.Stearn@mailonline.co.uk *** 

Kidney transplant and heart patients have shared their devastation after their NHS appointments were cancelled due to junior doctor strikes. 

Angela Waters-Kite, from Hull, told how her appointment for Monday has been cancelled, which would have revealed whether she could donate a kidney to her husband. The pair have been left ‘deflated’ by the strikes and on ‘tenterhooks’ as to whether the transplant can go ahead.

Tim Addams, from Lancaster, who is suffering from shooting chest pain, said he is ‘fed-up’ after being told that he faces a 15-month wait for a heart appointment that was postponed due to health service industrial action.

Other patients have shared how they have been left waiting nine months for an urgent referral appointment, only to have it postponed again at the last minute due to mass walkouts by medics.

Ministers today pleaded with union bosses to ‘come back to the table’, while senior MPs accused striking medics of ‘holding the country to ransom’, labelling the action ‘an act of cruelty’.

The British Medical Association (BMA) — the union behind this week’s action — is seeking a 35 per cent salary hike for junior doctors. The union has doubled down on its original demand, vowing ‘not stop until we achieve full pay restoration’. However, the Government remains hopeful the BMA will settle for less 

Angela Waters-Kite, from Hull, revealed that her appointment for Monday has been cancelled, which would have revealed whether she could donate a kidney to her husband. The pair have been left 'deflated' by the strikes and on 'tenterhooks' as to whether the transplant can go ahead. Pictured, junior doctors at the picket line outside St Thomas' Hospital, London today

Angela Waters-Kite, from Hull, revealed that her appointment for Monday has been cancelled, which would have revealed whether she could donate a kidney to her husband. The pair have been left ‘deflated’ by the strikes and on ‘tenterhooks’ as to whether the transplant can go ahead. Pictured, junior doctors at the picket line outside St Thomas’ Hospital, London today

Tim Addams, from Lancaster, who is suffering from shooting chest pain, said he is 'fed-up' after being told that he faces a 15-month wait for a heart appointment that was postponed due to health service industrial action. Pictured, junior doctors this morning outside the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle

Tim Addams, from Lancaster, who is suffering from shooting chest pain, said he is ‘fed-up’ after being told that he faces a 15-month wait for a heart appointment that was postponed due to health service industrial action. Pictured, junior doctors this morning outside the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle

The British Medical Association (BMA) — the union behind this week’s action — is seeking a 35 per cent salary hike for junior doctors.

The union has doubled down on its original demand, vowing ‘not stop until we achieve full pay restoration’. 

However, the Government remains hopeful the BMA will settle for less. 

Mrs Waters-Kite, who was due to attend an appointment at Hull Royal Infirmary on January 8, said the strikes are ‘wrong on all levels’.

The 54-year-old is hoping to become a donor for her 56-year-old husband Tim. 

Junior doctors’ pay – the truth 

Junior doctors were awarded a pay rise of 6 per cent plus a consolidated payment of £1,250 in July, in line with the recommendation of the Independent Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration.

The package was equivalent to an average increase of 8.1 per cent from 2022/23 to 2023/24, or 10.3 per cent for those in their first year of training.

Average basic pay for a first year doctor increased from £29,384 to £32,397, while a junior doctor who had been a specialty trainee for six years or more saw their pay rise from £58,398 to £63,152.

Many are paid a higher sum for working overtime and receiving enhanced rates for working unsociable hours.

Junior doctors pocketed the extra money despite vowing to continue striking, with some boasting the additional income would subsidise further walkouts.

Steve Barclay, who was Health Secretary from October 2022 until November 2023, and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak had described the settlement as final and insisted there would be no more talks about pay.

But the British Medical Association has held further negotiations with officials and ministers in the Department of Health and Social Care since October, resulting an offer of an extra 3 per cent, which has been rejected by union representatives.

The BMA has claimed that junior doctors have seen their pay eroded by more than a quarter in real terms over the past 15 years.

The trainee medics have been demanding full pay restoration — worth around 35 per cent — and have said they would not settle for anything less, although senior figures within the union have suggested they may compromise.

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He was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease at 22-years-old during a routine medical exam, which he had as part of his heavy goods vehicle driving qualification. 

She told MailOnline: ‘His right kidney is shrivelled, and his left kidney is not much better, but with blood pressure medication, his kidney function has been around the 30 per cent mark.

‘In the past two years this has decreased and he is wavering around the 10 per cent to 12 per cent mark.’

Function below 15 per cent is deemed established kidney failure.

Mrs Waters-Kite said: ‘Luckily, Tim has been accepted to go on the kidney transplant list, and his paperwork is going through now.’

Tests last year revealed that she is a blood type and tissue match for her husband. 

She said: ‘It amazes us how the transplant team does it. They have all been fantastic.

‘My appointment, which was cancelled, was for the next “hurdle” — to see if I will be accepted as a living donor.  

‘Deflated is the word I would use as everything from now is a yes or a definite no to being a donor, so we’re on tenterhooks.’

Mrs Waters-Kite added: ‘We’re in a position where it’s not what we would class as imminent danger to health, unlike a lot of people who are in a life or death situation. That’s who we feel sorry for.

‘The NHS striking — it’s wrong on all levels. You know the wage when you decide on your career.’ 

Meanwhile, Mr Addams has been left ‘fed up’ after a cardiology appointment scheduled for August 2023 — sandwiched days between consultant and junior doctor strikes — was cancelled. 

The 46-year-old, who suffers from shooting heart pains that leave him nauseous, has been forced to wait 15 months for a rescheduled slot this coming November. 

He told MailOnline: ‘Each day I get up, my heart [beats per minute (bpm)] shoots up to 160bpm, I then start sweating badly and being sick. 

‘I have to go and sit on the sofa for an hour to try and get it back below 100bpm. It rarely drops below 100. It’s made me pretty fed up to be honest.’ 

Frankie Lynn, from London, revealed that she was due to have an urgent referral appointment during the six-day strike, following a nine-month wait.

However, she shared a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, stating that it has now been cancelled due to the walkouts. 

Rafa Milo, in the North West, also said that his NHS appointment scheduled for November was postponed to January. But he was told today that it has been called off for a second time, according to his post on the social media platform.

It comes as NHS England’s national medical director, Professor Sir Stephen Powis, today warned the impact of strike action would have an ‘ongoing effect on the weeks and months ahead’. 

He said: ‘As the longest strike in the history of the NHS begins during one of the busiest and most challenging weeks of the year — the health service is experiencing the winter pressures of flu and Covid combined with the huge disruption of industrial action.

Other patients have shared how they have been left waiting nine months for an urgent referral appointment, only to have it postponed again at the last minute due to mass walkouts by medics. Pictured, junior doctors on the picket line outside St Thomas' Hospital in London this morning

Other patients have shared how they have been left waiting nine months for an urgent referral appointment, only to have it postponed again at the last minute due to mass walkouts by medics. Pictured, junior doctors on the picket line outside St Thomas’ Hospital in London this morning

‘We know hospitals are already experiencing significant demand with other NHS services also under immense pressure, and although staff are doing the very best for patients with extensive preparations in place, there is no denying the NHS has started the year in a very difficult position. 

He added: ‘This latest round of strike action will not only have an impact on this week but will have an ongoing effect on the weeks and months ahead as we struggle to recover services and cope with heavy demand.’ 

‘Our message for patients remains the same – continue to come forward for care using 999 and A&E in life-threatening emergencies and 111 online for everything else.’

In a sign of the strain on the NHS, Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust declared a critical incident — formally signalling that patient care may be under threat.

Which NHS services will be affected? Why are junior doctors on strike? Everything you need to know about the ‘unprecedented’ action 

How long will the walk out last? 

Junior doctors in England will take to the picket lines for six consecutive days, the longest strike in NHS history. 

BMA members are striking from January 3 at 7am until 7am on January 9.

Which NHS services will be affected?

Almost all pre-planned (elective) hospital services will be affected by strikes as the NHS shifts all of its focus to urgent and emergency care. 

What should I do if I’m ill?

Health officials have stressed that people should still seek help if they are unwell. 

GP and pharmacy services will be unaffected by the industrial action and people are being urged to use these services as they would normally.

Patients can also use 111 online, or call 111.

Those with life-threatening emergencies should still call 999 and use A&E as normal.

Why are junior doctors on strike?

In the summer ministers offered junior doctors an 8.8 per cent pay rise, on average, for the 2023/24 financial year. 

However, the uplift was higher for first year medics, who were given a 10.3 per cent boost.

The BMA, however, said the increase was insufficient and that junior doctors had seen their pay eroded by more than a quarter in real terms since 2008.

Trainee medics have been demanding full pay restoration — worth around 35 per cent — and have said they would not settle for anything less. 

Ministers insisted this was the final offer. But Ms Atkins offered the medics an additional 3 per cent on top of this rise. This was rejected.

Junior doctors and the Government entered talks in late 2023. After five weeks of intense negotiations, however, talks broke down and the BMA announced strike action for December and January.

What is happening elsewhere in the UK? 

Junior doctors in Wales are planning a 72-hour walkout from January 15, while doctors in training in Northern Ireland are being balloted for potential strike action. 

Those in Scotland have already come to an agreement with the Scottish government.

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Meanwhile, NHS Greater Manchester warned its hospitals are ‘extremely challenged’, with the junior doctor strikes worsening ambulance handover times and the number of patients stuck in hospitals who are waiting to be discharged.

Bolton NHS Foundation Trust said it was facing ‘extreme pressure’ with waiting times in A&E of ‘up to 11 hours’. 

Warwick Hospital warned that it is under ‘extreme heightened pressure’ while Airedale Hospital said its emergency department is ‘exceptionally busy’. 

Health officials in Wigan said emergency services were ‘very busy’ and complained that doctors were seeing ‘a lot of minor illnesses that could’ve been treated elsewhere such as a GP surgery or pharmacy.’

Leeds Teaching Hospitals warned that its hospitals are ‘under significant pressure.’

Health leaders and NHS trusts issued a slew of shocking advice to patients, from advising older people to ‘keep warm’ to telling the public to ‘wash their hands’ to reduce pressures on the health service. 

Professor Yvonne Doyle, the former medical director at Public Health England, told Times Radio that the public would need to play its part in reducing pressures on the health service.

‘This is the period of the year when the NHS is always at its most stretched. There are things that everyone can do to actually help with that, and also look after themselves,’ she said.

‘Top of the list, for those who are eligible, is to get vaccinated, but also if you have got infection, keep away from people … try and limit your contact with people.’

She added: ‘The other factor at this time of the year is cold weather. So older people, and people who are vulnerable to stroke, [should try to] to keep warm.’

Health leaders expressed ‘deep concern’ about the risks to the elderly, raising fears that those in need of help would not come forward during the strikes. 

Paul Farmer, Age UK’s chief executive, said: ‘We are very concerned older people who may be feeling unwell are put off seeking the care they need due to the strikes.

‘We have increasingly heard from older people, already struggling to access the help they need, now worried what ongoing strikes mean for them and their families.

Today’s walkout marks the 29th day of industrial action by junior doctors since they first took to the picket lines in March. 

Health Secretary Victoria Atkins, who has already sketched out deals with consultant and specialist doctors, warned that while the health service has ‘robust contingency plans in place’, the action will seriously impact patients. 

She said: ‘January is typically the busiest time of the year for the NHS and these strikes will have a serious impact on patients across the country. 

‘The NHS has again put in place robust contingency plans to protect patient safety and it is vital anyone who needs medical help continues to come forward.

She added: ‘I urge the BMA Junior Doctors Committee to call off their strikes and come back to the negotiating table so we can find a fair and reasonable solution to end the strikes once and for all.’

Ministers had initially offered junior doctors an 8.8 per cent pay rise, on average, for the 2023/24 financial year. 

However, the uplift was higher for first year medics, who were given a 10.3 per cent boost.

Junior doctors in their first year now have a basic pay of £32,300, while those with three years’ experience make £43,900. The most senior earn £63,100.

Ministers insisted this was the final offer. But Ms Atkins offered the medics an additional three per cent on top of this rise.

Ministers today pleaded with union bosses to 'come back to the table', while senior MPs accused striking medics of 'holding the country to ransom', labelling the action 'an act of cruelty'. Pictured, junior doctors on the picket line outside St Thomas' Hospital, London today

Ministers today pleaded with union bosses to ‘come back to the table’, while senior MPs accused striking medics of ‘holding the country to ransom’, labelling the action ‘an act of cruelty’. Pictured, junior doctors on the picket line outside St Thomas’ Hospital, London today

Ministers today pleaded with union bosses to 'come back to the table', while senior MPs accused striking medics of 'holding the country to ransom', labelling the action 'an act of cruelty'. Junior doctors in their first year now have a basic pay of £32,300, while those with three years' experience make £43,900. The most senior earn £63,100

Ministers today pleaded with union bosses to ‘come back to the table’, while senior MPs accused striking medics of ‘holding the country to ransom’, labelling the action ‘an act of cruelty’. Junior doctors in their first year now have a basic pay of £32,300, while those with three years’ experience make £43,900. The most senior earn £63,100

However, Dr Robert Laurenson and Dr Vivek Trivedi, who co-chair the BMA’s junior doctor committee, said this sum was still ‘completely insufficient’ and pressed ahead with fresh walkouts.

The BMA has claimed that junior doctors have seen their pay eroded by more than a quarter in real terms since 2008.

Trainee medics have been demanding full pay restoration — worth around 35 per cent — and have said they would not settle for anything less. 

But senior MPs accused striking medics of ‘holding the country to ransom’.

Tory MP Paul Bristow, a member of the Commons Health Select Committee, also labelled the action ‘unthinkable’, warning it would put lives at risk.

‘The BMA junior doctor leadership can’t keep holding the country to ransom. It is an act of cruelty to make patients pay the price for their exorbitant 35 per cent pay demands,’ he said.

Steve Brine, the Tory chair of the Commons health select committee, told Times Radio today that the union’s pay demand was ‘totally undeliverable’  and also accused striking medics of ‘holding the NHS to ransom for six days’.

He added: ‘The Labour party are not saying they’re making a 35 per cent pay rise, we’re certainly not saying that. A 35 per cent pay rise demand is totally undeliverable.’

But Dr Laurenson today said that strike action is the ‘only thing’ the Government listens to.

Speaking from a picket line outside St Thomas’ Hospital in London, he said there was ‘no good time to strike’, adding ‘we need to recognise that we have a massive workforce crisis’.

He said: ‘The only reason the Government will even entertain talks with us is because we have strike action.’

‘I’m happy to negotiate right now. I’ll walk down to Westminster, I’ll sit down with Victoria Atkins if she wants to sit down with us, but she doesn’t. 

‘She’s pushed us out of the negotiation room.

‘The fact of the matter is we don’t have enough doctors. So the Government’s answer to that is apparently to cut our pay, but that’s just going to drive more doctors away.’

Dr Trivedi also revealed the BMA would accept its 35 per cent pay uplift demand to be spread ‘over a number of years’. 

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme: ‘All we want is a credible offer that we can put to our members and we don’t need to strike ever again.

‘We’re not asking for any uplift or pay restoration to happen overnight. We’re not even saying it has to happen in one year. 

‘We are very happy to look over deals that would span a number of years — but what we need to do is to start a way towards that and not further that pay erosion. 

‘That three per cent pay uplift would still have amounted to pay cuts for many doctors this year.’

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