Creating a new NHS England: NHS Digital and NHS England have now merged. Health Education England will join us in April 2023. Learn more.
- The NHS is making significant progress against its elective recovery plan, with the number of people waiting over 18 months cut by over 9,000 in January compared to the previous month – and down almost two thirds on its peak in September 2021. However, strikes by junior doctors will cause major disruption and thousands of patients may face postponements to their treatment.
- During strike action we will prioritise resources to protect emergency treatment, critical care, neonatal care, and trauma, and ensure we prioritise patients who have waited the longest for elective care and cancer surgery. We will only cancel appointments and procedures where it is necessary and will reschedule immediately, where possible.
- Regardless of any strike action taking place, it is really important that patients who need urgent medical care continue to come forward, especially in emergency and life-threatening cases – when someone is seriously ill or injured, or their life is at risk.
- If we have not contacted you, please attend your appointment as planned. The NHS will contact you if your appointment needs to be rescheduled due to strike action.
- Please continue to attend your GP and dental appointments, unless you are contacted and told otherwise.
- The NHS is asking patients to use services wisely during industrial action and take simple steps to help ensure care is available to patients who need it most. This includes using 111 online as the first port of call for health needs and continuing to only use 999 if it is a life-threatening emergency.
- Patients should only call 999 if it is a medical or mental health emergency (when someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk).
- If you need medical help or advice, or you are unsure about whether you should go to hospital, go to NHS 111 online unless it is a life-threatening emergency when you should still call 999.
- Patients should take advice from 111/999 call-handlers on whether there are circumstances where it is suitable for them to make their own way to hospital.
- The NHS is also asking the public to play their part by taking simple steps during industrial action to look after themselves, loved ones and checking in on vulnerable family members and neighbours.
For more information on when to call 999 and when to go to A&E, you can visit the NHS UK website.
Frequently asked questions
What is happening?
Trade unions representing some NHS staff are in dispute with the Government over the 2022/23 pay award. A number of the unions have balloted their NHS members to take part in industrial action.
The BMA and Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association (HCSA) have announced junior doctors strikes running from 6:59am on Tuesday 11 April until 6:59am on Saturday 15 April.
The NHS wants to see a resolution as soon as possible, but pay is a matter for the Government and the trade unions.
What if I need urgent or emergency care?
Anyone who needs urgent care should use NHS111 online or call NHS 111 to be assessed and directed to the right care for them. If you do not have internet access then 111 helpline is available.
When someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk, you should seek emergency care in the normal way, by calling 999 or attending A&E.
If staff are out on strike what does it mean for emergency care?
In advance of strike action, we work with unions to agree which members of staff can continue to work to ensure safe levels of care. These agreements are called derogations and often mean that some health union members will continue their work in line with an agreement between employers and unions. Where derogations have not been agreed we may have to move staff from other departments within a hospital to ensure we can continue to provide emergency care. Unfortunately, this could mean disruption to some routine appointments and procedures.
What do strikes mean for NHS services in my area?
Not every hospital and ambulance service will be affected by strike action. You can check which trusts are affected on each trade union’s website:
- Royal College of Nursing
- Chartered Society of Physiotherapy
- Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association (HCSA)
- British Medical Association (BMA)
- British Dental Association (BDA)
What will this mean for appointments?
During strike action we will prioritise emergency treatment and patients seeking urgent treatment will be seen. Unfortunately, this means we may have to prioritise emergency care over some routine appointments and procedures. Everyone who has an appointment should attend as planned, unless your local NHS provider has contacted you to reschedule. If we have not contacted you, please attend your appointment even if your Trust is affected by strikes.
Will emergency care be affected on strike days?
Emergency care will continue to be available across all parts of the country. It is really important that in emergency and life-threatening cases – when someone is seriously ill or their life is at risk patients continue to come forward as normal.
I have a loved one who will be a hospital inpatient on strike day – how will their care be affected?
All hospital inpatients will be informed of how their care will be impacted on a ward-by-ward basis by the staff involved in delivering their care.
Will GP services be affected on strike days?
The vast majority of GP services will be running as normal on strike days. Please continue to attend scheduled GP appointments.
When will I find out if my appointment is rescheduled?
The NHS will contact you if your appointment needs to be rescheduled due to strike action. This is likely to be a text, phone call or a letter, and you should be offered an alternative date for your appointment. If we have not contacted you, please attend your appointment as planned.
If my appointment is rescheduled, will I be put back to the bottom of the waiting list?
Any appointments that need to be rescheduled will be done so as a priority.
Is there anything I should do now?
To avoid delays in getting your medicines or the risk of running out of medicines during strikes please order prescriptions in good time.
Should I cancel my appointment on the day of strikes?
No, if we have not contacted you, please attend your appointment as planned.
What should I do if I need an ambulance?
On strike days, patients should only call 999 if seriously ill or injured, and there is risk to life. Ambulances will be dispatched where clinically appropriate.
For all other health care needs support will be available through NHS 111 online, via the NHS 111 helpline or at your local GP or pharmacy.
The NHS.UK website has more information on when to call 999 and when to go to A&E.
Will GP services be affected on strike days?
GP services are not impacted by ambulance or nursing strikes. However, junior doctors strikes may impact some appointments. Please continue to attend your GP appointments, unless you are contacted and told otherwise.
Will dentists be impacted?
The British Dental Association has advised that some of their members who work in hospitals on trainee contracts will take action on the same days as junior doctors. However the vast majority of dentists will continue to work. Please continue to attend any dental appointments unless you are contacted and told otherwise.
What is considered an emergency?
Patients should only call 999 if seriously ill or injured, and there is risk to life. Ambulances will be dispatched where clinically appropriate.
How long will services be impacted?
The length of strike action varies from union to union.