A junior doctor has claimed patients won't be at risk when NHS workers stage a historic walkout tomorrow, saying the most experienced doctors in the country will still be working to offer emergency care.
Dagan Lonsdale rebutted claims carried in the Daily Mail today, warning people: "Don't get sick tomorrow". The paper branded the impending strike action "blackmail".
Speaking on Monday, the junior doctor hit back and explained that while 125,000 operations and appointments had been cancelled, veteran medics would still be on hand to staff maternity wards and A&E departments for those in need of urgent attention.
He labelled claims patient safety could be at risk "scaremongering".
Mr Lonsdale told the BBC's 'Daily Politics' programme: "I don't believe they will [be at risk] at my hospital, where there are hundreds of consultants who have prepared for this event.
"They are the most qualified doctors in the country.
"We saw over the weekend, letters written where thousands of consultant have written to say that they are going to keep patients safe and that if people are unwell and they need to come to an emergency department then people should do that tomorrow.
"It is quite wrong for the government to scaremonger when actually emergency care will be provided by the most experienced doctors in the country."
Mr Lagan won plaudits for his case on social media.
It comes hours after a junior doctor who launched legal action against the health secretary Jeremy Hunt resigned from his job live on air.
Dr Ben White said he was quitting to focus on a challenge in the courts against the imposition of a new pay and working conditions contract, pledging to fight for the NHS on behalf of patients.
Jeremy Hunt has denounced tomorrow's strike, the first all-out walkout in the NHS' history, as "unacceptable" and insisted it will affect patients' safety.
12,711 non-urgent operations cancelled
45,000 junior doctors walking out
112,856 outpatient appointments cancelled
25,000+ procedures cancelled during previous strikes
The health secretary has urged doctors' union the British Medical Association (BMA) to call off the 48-hour strike and meet him, but refused to delay the introduction of the new contract as had been suggested in a last-minute cross-party proposal over the weekend.
He wrote to Mark Porter, the union's chair, suggesting that they meet to discuss other issues affecting doctors such as improvements in training saying: "Next week’s withdrawal of emergency care by junior doctors, called by the BMA, seriously risks the safety of many patients who depend on the NHS.”
“The extreme action planned will be deeply worrying for patients and place enormous additional strain on our NHS at a time of intense pressure.
“I therefore appeal to you one final time to call off strike action that will see doctors withdraw potentially life-saving care, and to meet with me on Monday to discuss a better way forward.”