Up to 250,000 NHS medical appointments and operations in England could be postponed next week due to the latest round of junior doctors' strikes, the NHS Confederation has warned.

The news comes as medics will walk out of the job for four days in the dispute over pay from Tuesday (April 10), straight after the Easter bank holiday weekend.

The strikes will run from 6.59am on Tuesday until 6.59am on Saturday, April 15.

NHS national medical director Professor Sir Stephen Powis said: “This next round of strikes will see unparalleled levels of disruption, and we are very concerned about the potential severity of impact on patients and services across the country.

“This time the action immediately follows a four-day bank holiday weekend, which is already difficult as many staff are taking much-needed holiday, and it will be more extensive than ever before with hospitals facing nearly 100 hours without up to half of the NHS medical workforce.”

He said the NHS would continue to prioritise emergency, critical and neonatal care, as well as maternity and trauma services, but inevitably hundreds of thousands of appointments, including in cancer care, would need to be postponed again.

The British Medical Association has called on the health secretary to negotiate to resolve 15 years of “pay erosion”, with junior doctors losing more than 25 per cent of their pay in real terms.

It said industrial action could still be avoided if the government makes a “credible offer.”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Junior doctors in England will strike over four days from Tuesday (April 10)Junior doctors in England will strike over four days from Tuesday (April 10) (Image: Hannah McKay/PA Wire/PA Images)

However, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has insisted the strikes must be called off before any negotiations take place.

Dr Mike Greenhalgh, deputy co-chair of the BMA’s Junior Doctors Committee, told BBC One’s Breakfast show: “We’re happy to meet at any time. We would still meet him over the bank holiday weekend before the industrial action next week.

“And if he was to bring a credible offer to us, it could still, even at this late stage, avert action.”

Dr Greenhalgh apologised to patients who have had operations or appointments cancelled and assured patient safety would not be put at risk.

“Patient safety was maintained at the last strikes, and it will be in these strikes,” he said.

According to the BBC, the Department of Health and Social Care has said the government is working with NHS England to put contingency plans in place to protect patient safety during the strike.

A spokesman said: "The NHS will prioritise resources to protect emergency treatment, critical care, maternity and neonatal care, and trauma.”

Up to 250,000 NHS appointments in England could be postponed

Dr Layla McCay, director of policy at the NHS Confederation, said the figure could be as much as 250,000 postponed appointments and operations and that health bosses were more concerned about the impact of this latest walkout than any other strike so far amid fears over patient safety.

She told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme: “In the last junior doctors’ strike we saw about 175,000 appointments and operations having to be postponed.

“In terms of the disruption that we’re anticipating this time, we reckon it could be up to about a quarter of a million so that is a huge amount of impact for patients up and down the country.”

She added: “What we’re hearing from our members who are health leaders across the whole system is that they are more concerned about this than they have been about any other strike.

“They think that the impact is going to be so significant that this one is likely to have impact on patient safety and that is a huge concern for every healthcare leader.”

Dr Layla McCay said the disruption could last up to 10 or 11 days, with strikes set between the Easter bank holiday and another weekend.