ONE of north east Essex’s top medical bosses has warned the junior doctors’ four-day strike will cause significantly worse disruption than the industrial action which took place last month.

March’s strike, which lasted three days, saw more than 175,000 treatments and appointments cancelled, but this week’s strikes – which are lasting one day longer – are expected to have an even greater impact, according to health bosses.

As many as 47,600 members of the British Medical Association (BMA) will not return to work until Saturday as part of the strikes.

Junior doctors' pay varies depending on their experience; junior doctors in their first year of work earn a basic salardy £29,000 per year, but after a five years a doctor will be earning just short of £60,000 annually.

Dr Andrew Kelso, the medical director of the NHS in Suffolk and north east Essex, has said the timing of the action immediately after the Easter weekend has meant health services will be hit harder.

He said: “While I recognise everyone’s right to strike, this latest action is going to have a significant impact on our patients, coming as it does on the back of an incredibly busy Easter holiday weekend and during a period when the NHS is already under enormous pressure.”

Dr Kelso also encouraged people to use the NHS more sparingly due to its scarce resources for the rest of the week.

He added: “This pressure is not the fault of patients, but at this extremely difficult time I ask people to use our precious NHS resources even more carefully than normal.

“Reduced numbers of staff in hospital emergency departments are needed to treat seriously ill people so please don’t go there unless this is the case.

“By turning up with a minor illness or injury you’ll be adding to the pressures of an already overburdened service, and that’s not what the NHS needs right now.”

Patients who have had appointments and operations cancelled have also been asked not to call their health provider.

National figures estimate as many as 250,000 operations and patient appointments will be postponed because doctors will be diverted to emergency care.