Patients faced widespread disruption as junior doctors went on strike again at Frimley Hospital as part of a four-day dispute over pay. 

From Saturday, February 24, until Wednesday, February 28, junior doctors downed tools to go on strike for the 10th time in less than a year. 

It comes as the hospital said its A&E departments have been "exceptionally busy" in recent weeks, urging the public only to come to hospital if absolutely necessary. 

A spokesman for Frimley Hospital said: "Over the past few weeks, our Emergency Departments (A&Es) have been exceptionally busy. In order to prioritise and support our sickest patients, those attending hospital may be redirected to an urgent care centre if safe to do so. For those that do need to stay in the Emergency Department, waits may be longer than usual."

They urged the public to consider where best to go if they need care, referring people to pharmacies and their local doctors in the first instances. 

Junior doctors in England have now been on strike for almost a year, with their first walkout having taken place in mid-March last year.

Ahead of the latest action, ​the co-chairs of the British Medical Association's Junior Doctors Committee for England, Robert Laurenson and Vivek Trivedi, urged the health secretary, Victoria Atkins, to present an offer sufficient to avoid further action.

They said: “The Government could have stopped these strikes by simply making a credible pay offer for junior doctors in England to begin reversing the pay cuts they have inflicted upon us for more than a decade.

“The same Government could have even accepted our offer to delay this round of strike action to give more space for talks – all we asked for in return was a short extension of our mandate to strike.

“The fact that ministers have chosen strike action over what could have been the end of this year’s pay dispute is disappointing to say the least.”

They claim “more and more” junior doctors are moving abroad for better-paying jobs, adding: “All doctors are looking for is to reverse pay cuts and be paid the same, in real terms, as in 2008 – which looks like around £21 per hour instead of the current £15 per hour.

“This is the way to a better-staffed, more effective health service, and all the Government has to do to call off these strikes is come forward with a credible way of getting there.”

Health Secretary Victoria Atkins said: “I want to see doctors treating patients, not standing on picket lines.

“In negotiations with the BMA junior doctors committee, we made it clear we were prepared to go further than the pay increase of up to 10.3% that they have already received. They refused to put our offer to their members.

“More than 1.3 million appointments and operations have already been cancelled or rescheduled since industrial action began – five days of further action will compound this.

“The NHS has robust contingency plans in place, and it is vital that people continue to come forward for treatment. But no one should underestimate the impact these strikes have on our NHS.

“So again, I urge the BMA junior doctors committee to call off their strikes and show they are prepared to be reasonable, so that we can come back to the negotiating table to find a fair way forward.”