The NHS is asking patients to seek urgent care if they need it during industrial action this week and continue to attend appointments as planned unless contacted to rearrange.
Patients should use services wisely by going to NHS 111 online as the first port of call for health needs and continuing to call 999 in a life-threatening emergency.
General practice, community pharmacies, and dentistry are not impacted by strike action and the public should continue to access these services as needed on strike days.
The NHS will contact anyone whose appointment needs to be rescheduled due to strike action. If the NHS has not contacted you, it is important to attend appointments as planned.
This Wednesday and Thursday (18 and 19 January) nurses in some local NHS organisations, including NHS trusts, are striking but not every local area is impacted.
In all cases, priority will be given to those patients with the most clinically urgent health needs.
NHS Deputy Chief Nursing Officer Charlotte McArdle said: “The NHS has tried and tested methods in place to manage any disruption and has been working hard to minimise the impact for patients.
“It is important that people continue coming forward for treatment, whether it is 111 online for non-life threatening care, making use of your local pharmacy or General Practice, or dialling 999 in a life-threatening emergency.
“While strikes will impact some services in those local organisations taking action, NHS teams have worked hard to maintain routine care as much as possible, so it is important people attend appointments as planned unless they have been contacted to rearrange.”
The NHS has been preparing extensively for industrial action and for winter, with plans already in place to manage additional demand including 24/7 control centres, additional bed capacity, more mental health support for ambulance services and more community falls services.
Last month the NHS launched the latest phase of a TV campaign encouraging the public to use NHS 111 online.
After entering answers about health needs online, the service makes an assessment and directs you to the best place for your care – this can include a consultation with a pharmacist, a call back from a nurse, or visiting a same day urgent treatment centre or A&E.
NHS England and local NHS areas have plans in place to ensure life-saving care continues and to minimise disruption to patient care.
In November NHS England issued guidance to local NHS employers on what derogations they should seek from local union representatives to ensure certain vital services such as chemotherapy continue.