NHS national medical director, Professor Sir Stephen Powis, said: “Emergency departments remained under severe pressure yesterday (13 March), and, while we are prioritising urgent and critical care, it’s important to remember that GP surgeries and pharmacies are largely unaffected and that 111 online can help with many non-urgent needs.
“Some hospitals even saw their busiest Monday of the year so far for A&E attendance as the strike got underway yesterday, which presents a major challenge as our staff continue to do all they can to mitigate the impact of the industrial action for patients.
“As we see the impact of the most significant strike disruption in the history of the NHS, we’re really grateful to the public for using services appropriately.
“If you need emergency care, please continue to call 999, and please do attend any GP or hospital appointments unless contacted otherwise. But the public can help us ensure that care can be delivered to those that need it most over the next 48 hours by using 999 and A&E in life-threatening emergencies only, and using NHS 111 online or calling 111 for non-urgent needs.”