BOSSES at Airedale Hospital are making contingency plans to cope with a five-day strike by junior doctors this month.

The full walk-out over a new contracts row will start on Monday, September 12, from 8am to 5pm, and will be followed by strikes from October 5 to 11, November 14 to 18 and December 5 to 9.

Hospital trust chiefs say it is too early to say how many operations and appointments will be cancelled or postponed because of the first strike, which will be the longest in NHS history, but they will be contacting patients soon.

The Government is still continuing with its plans to impose a new contract next month despite doctors voting to reject its proposed terms and conditions back in July.

Stacey Hunter, chief operating officer at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are currently working with our staff, including consultants, nurses, other health professionals and union representatives and our primary care colleagues, to come up with plans.

“Patient safety is our priority and to ensure high quality and safe care and welfare can be maintained throughout the period. Anyone whose appointment or operation is affected will be contacted and we will do our best to reschedule these as soon as possible.”

BMA junior doctor committee chairman Ellen McCourt said the strike would be called off if the Government agreed not to force the new contract on them.

But a Department of Health spokesman said: “As doctors’ representatives, the BMA should be putting patients first not playing politics in a way that will be immensely damaging for vulnerable patients.

“What’s more, the BMA must be the first union in history to call for strike action against a deal they themselves negotiated and said was a good one.”