'There's a lot of anger': Hospital says mood is changing among patients facing delays due to strike action

Melissa Davies sits in a quiet office that she shares with her colleague Liam.

They are wearing headsets plugged into laptops and listening intently to patient concerns.

It doesn't look like it, but this is one of the most important - and stressful - hospital jobs leading up to strike days.

Ms Davies leads the team that cancels and rearranges patient operations at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading.

She stands down clinics and reshuffles consultant teams, making sure the hospital can continue offering essential cancer services and its emergency department can keep its doors open when the trust's junior doctors are on strike.

"It's frustrating," she tells me.

"It's frustrating for us as a team. We fully support our colleagues in relation to the industrial action that they're taking, it's just relaying that information back to the patient, you know, explaining to them why it's happening."

Ms Davies has been in this role for almost three years.

The past year has been the most stressful because of the industrial action.

She is detecting a change in the mood of the patients when she calls to cancel their long-awaited procedure.

"The frustration, I think, is the fact that these patients are being moved not just once but multiple times. And trying to make them understand why that's happening.

"It's not always easy to deal with those calls. There's a lot of frustration there. There's a lot of anger there. These patients have been waiting quite a long time, especially routine patients for their appointments.

"And as you can appreciate those conversations can get quite heated and quite difficult.

"It's just about keeping them calm and explaining the situation."

The NHS industrial action started over a year ago.

Since then 1.3 million appointments have had to be rescheduled.

Striking junior doctors enjoyed strong public support at the beginning of their campaign and even now, according to the most recent opinion polls, still have the majority of the population backing them.

But the longer the strikes drag on then the greater the risk of that changing.

Read more:
NHS psychiatric care 'collapsing' amid 'unsafe' mixed wards
See how your local NHS trust is performing
NHS patients to be given right to urgent second opinion

Sitting in his pyjamas in bay in the emergency department is George Rodd.

He was brought by ambulance to the hospital this morning.

Mr Rodd is elderly, maybe in his mid 70s. He called 111 after he noticed a lot of blood in his urine.

He has recently had issues with his heart and suffered a stroke.

He needs and relies on the health service.

In his own words he "wouldn't be here if it wasn't for the NHS".

He "loves it" and has nothing but praise for nurses and doctors who tend to him.

But Mr Rodd is furious with the striking junior doctors and their union and he doesn't pull any punches telling me how they make him feel.

"I think they're disgusting for going on strike. They are disgusting, lazy so-and-sos. I am absolutely worried about the impact these strikes will have on me and my grandchildren.

"I was in a hospital last week and they were short-staffed, but they wouldn't be if these doctors came in to work."