NHS leaders are reminding the public to only call 999 for an ambulance or attend A&E for life-threatening conditions or injuries only, as the region’s health services plan ahead for two successive strike actions.
The British Medical Association (BMA) has announced that junior doctors will take part in five days of industrial action from 7am Thursday 13 July until 7am Tuesday 18 July 2023.
This will be closely followed by two days of industrial action by hospital consultants and hospital dentists, taking place from 7am on Thursday 20 July until 7am on Saturday 22 July.
The strikes will affect NHS services across the North East and North Cumbria and patients should expect disruption and potential long waits during the strikes, and over the following immediate days when patient attendance often peaks.
NHS teams across the region have plans in place to ensure emergency and urgent care services are prioritised and remain open during this time. The NHS is also reminding the public to keep their appointments unless they hear otherwise and for urgent health needs, that are not life threatening, to use 111 online or by phone which is available 24/7.
Dr Neil O’Brien, executive medical director, North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care Board said: “We are planning for significant disruption to many services during these latest periods of industrial action. Whilst plans are in place across the region to help ensure a safe level of care, it remains challenging, partly due to the time of year coinciding with staff planned annual leave, meaning fewer staff are available. However, help will be provided to those patients who need it the most during this time, with emergency and urgent care services being prioritised.
“This latest industrial action includes the longest period of strike action so far and it is inevitable that many planned appointments and treatments will be rearranged. Patients will be contacted directly to inform them of any changes, and should assume their scheduled appointment or treatment will go ahead unless they have heard otherwise, there is no need to contact the NHS.
“GP practices and local pharmacies will also be open as usual during the industrial action to help with advice and treatments.”
Public are reminded for urgent health needs, which are not life-threatening, www.111.nhs.uk and NHS 111 are available 24 hours a day. A symptom checker can be used to assess symptoms and it will re-direct to a health professional if people need to be seen by someone. Also, self-care advice is available on-line from the NHS at www.nhs.uk.
Anyone needing urgent mental health support should continue to seek it via their local Crisis Team. People can put their postcode in here to find their local crisis line.