AN NHS 'vigil' was held outside Whafedale Hospital this week in support of the junior doctors' strike.

About 60 people attended the event, which was organised by Otley and Yeadon Labour party, in cold conditions in Otley on Tuesday night.

The vigil took place on the eve of a second day of action by junior doctors this week, which included – for the first time – withdrawing emergency care.

Doctors claim a new contract due to be imposed by the Government in August will result in longer hours, a cut in salary and create additional risks for patients.

The Government, however, says the new deal will help deliver a 'seven-day-a-week NHS' and leave three-quarters of junior doctors better off.

Speakers at the Otley event, which was also intended to show support for the NHS as a public service, included Dr Chloe Fairbairns from the BMA.

She was joined by Leeds hospital consultant, Dr John Puntis, from Keep Our NHS Public, and Nik Rutherford, Labour's city council candidate for Otley and Yeadon.

They all claimed the imposed contract is part of the Government’s "long-term plan to drive down wages in order to privatise the NHS".

Mr Rutherford said: "There is strong support for the junior doctors, as all the people who have come out on this cold, wet evening are demonstrating.

"This is because the public realises the Government's approach to the junior doctors is just the start of a plan to reduce the wages of all NHS staff, drive down goodwill and then claim it's broken, so they can open the door to privatising the whole service.

"We are showing here tonight that the public will campaign to protect our NHS as a public service."

Meanwhile, more than 380 procedures and appointments at Airedale Hospital were hit by this week's junior doctors' strike.

Stacey Hunter, director of operations at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, said all urgent and emergency care was covered, but added: "There was a need to rearrange about 35 non-emergency operations and approximately 350 outpatient appointments.

“Anyone whose appointment or operation was affected was contacted.

“We are sorry for the inconvenience and will do our best to reschedule these as soon as possible.”

Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust, which runs a mental health centre in the Airedale Hospital grounds, said it had to postpone two appointments.

A spokesman for the Department of Health said: “We have continually sought a negotiated solution over three years of talks, during which there were two walkouts from the British Medical Association, and now there’s only the one issue of Saturday pay outstanding."