The NHS and patients are facing further disruption this week as three more days of historic joint walkouts by junior doctors and consultants are set to bring routine care services to a “near standstill”.
Thousands more appointments are expected to be rescheduled this week, just days after the total number of postponements since strikes began exceeded one million appointments.
From 7am on Monday until 7am on Thursday, both junior doctors and consultants will deliver ‘Christmas Day’ levels of staffing only, meaning that, while emergency care will be provided for those in need, routine hospital services will be severely affected.
The first-ever joint industrial action by both consultants and junior doctors took place last week, seeing 129,913 inpatient and outpatient appointments rescheduled across the week. At the peak of the action, on Wednesday 20th September, there were 26,802 staff absent from work due to industrial action.
Ahead of this week’s extensive action, the NHS is reminding the public that they should continue to use health services as they usually would – using 999 and A&E in life threatening situations and using 111 online for other health concerns. GPs and pharmacies can be used by the public for health advice and appointments as normal.
NHS national medical director, Professor Sir Stephen Powis, said: “NHS services have had very little time to recover from the previous action, and to now face an unprecedented three consecutive days of ‘Christmas Day’ cover this week which will prove extremely challenging, with almost all routine care brought to a near standstill.
“Staff are working incredibly hard to prioritise emergency care, and we’re very grateful to the public for using the NHS wisely during this period of disruption by using 999 in life-threatening situations and 111 online and community services like pharmacies and GPs for everything else.”