The Independent Healthcare Providers Network (IHPN) has issued a statement as junior doctors begin a planned six-day strike.
David Hare, chief executive, IHPN, said: “The next few days will unquestionably be the most challenging so far, coming at a time when the NHS will already be under enormous pressure.
“At this point we expect that nearly all NHS and private treatment in the independent sector will continue as planned during strike days.
“However, independent providers will continue to monitor the situation to understand the impact of strikes as they become clear.
“In the short term, our members will ensure the number one priority is patient safety, alongside a commitment to avoid disruption to patient care wherever possible.
“Independent providers will support consultants as they make individual, clinically-led decisions locally about covering gaps in rotas at NHS Trusts caused by the strikes.
“More widely, there are clearly significant concerns that there will be hundreds of thousands of patients awaiting planned care whose appointments and operations in the NHS will again be delayed or cancelled. “It’s increasingly important, for the sake of patients across the country, that the government and the unions find a way to resolve this damaging and disruptive dispute.”