HEALTH services in south Cumbria were affected by the first ever joint strike held by junior doctors and consultants yesterday.

Hospital bosses were warning of a 'significant' impact as staff walked out in a long-running dispute with the government over pay and conditions.

Hospitals have put in place Christmas Day-style rotas, meaning emergencies are prioritised but most routine work needs to be stopped.

The industrial action will see 96 hours of continuous strike by British Medical Association members, which started with consultants striking from Tuesday 19 September Thursday and junior doctors striking from Wednesday to Saturday. 

Patients were warned the strikes would have a 'significant impact' on planned and routine care.

Ahead of the strikes, Craig Harris, the chief of strategy, commissioning and integration at NHS Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care Board, which organises health services for the region, said:  “This will be an extremely difficult period of time for the NHS so we’re encouraging the public to use NHS services appropriately and to please use NHS 111 Online for all non-emergency healthcare needs."

Junior doctor committee co-chairs Dr Rob Laurenson and Dr Vivek Trivedi said: “Today, junior doctors across England are sending a single message, loud and clear to the Government: we are not going anywhere.

“Junior doctors in England do not want to strike but we will, and we will do so for as long as it takes for this Government to get back round the table and give us a credible offer to bring an end to the strikes.

“The Prime Minister’s latest offer is still a real terms pay cut, amounting to a doctor being paid just over £15 per hour when starting work and still sees junior doctors around 26 per cent worse off than in 2008.

"The only workforce to have lost more of their pay in this time, are our consultant colleagues.”

Consultants are seeking an above inflation pay award for this year.

Health Secretary Steve Barclay said consultants are receiving a 6 per cent pay rise alongside 'generous reforms to their pensions, which was the BMA’s (British Medical Association’s) number one ask'.

He added: “In the face of ongoing and escalating strike action, we will continue to take steps to protect patient safety and ensure the health service has the staff it needs to operate safely and effectively.”