A SENIOR doctor has advised patients to only visit A&E in an emergency, warning the consequences of the latest round of strike action will be “more far reaching than before” for patients.

Junior doctors represented by the British Medical Association (BMA) started a five-day walkout at 7am today.

Senior doctors and hospital consultants will strike from 7am next Thursday to 7am next Saturday.

It comes after a 72-hour walkout by junior doctors last month.

Leaders say these strikes will impact both routine and emergency care.

Gazette: Care leader - Andrew KelsoCare leader - Andrew Kelso (Image: NHS Suffolk and North East Essex Integrated Care Board)

Doctor Andrew Kelso, who is the medical director for the NHS Suffolk and North East Essex Integrated Care Board, said: “This time around the strike by junior doctors is longer, and the effects on patients might be more obvious when the consultants go on strike two days later.

“While I wholly respect everyone’s right to take this action, it is inevitable that the consequences for patients will be more far-reaching than before, with delays and disruption to care.

“I urge people to use their local pharmacy or NHS 111 for help and advice if they feel unwell, and also assure people that hospital A&E departments will be open for those with emergency, life-threatening conditions.”

The latest round of industrial action is being described as the longest walkout of its kind in the NHS’s history as medical staff continue their row over pay in the health service.

Why are junior doctors striking in July 2023?

The strikes are being held as the Government considers if it is going to accept recommendations from pay review bodies affecting public sector workers including teachers, civil servants, and NHS workers.

The starting salary for a junior doctor is £29,384, plus additional payments for overnight and weekend work.

The most senior junior doctors have a starting salary of £58,398, plus the additional payments.

Gazette: Action - junior doctors took to picket lines todayAction - junior doctors took to picket lines today (Image: Lucy North/PA Wire)

According to the Times, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has accepted the recommendations from all the pay review bodies, meaning junior doctors will receive six per cent pay increase

But the Government’s decision to rule out extra borrowing to fund the pay increases could leave departments forced to find £3 billion from existing budgets, which could see renewed anger from unions.