NHS leaders across the North West are urging people to access NHS care wisely, as services are expected to be severely impacted due to both hospital consultants and junior doctors taking part in strike action on the same day – the first time in NHS history.
Across the North West, hospital consultants will strike from 7am on Tuesday 19 September to 7am on 21 September, whilst junior doctors will strike from 7am on 20 September to 7am on 23 September, bringing almost all routine care to a standstill.
On Wednesday 20 September 2023 from 7am, both junior doctors and consultants will deliver ‘Christmas day levels of staffing’ only, meaning that while emergency care will be provided, limited elective activity based on clinical urgency will take place on days of industrial action.
Ahead of the 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 and emergency situations, and using 111 online for less-urgent health concerns. GPs and pharmacies can be used by the public for health advice and appointments as normal.
In contrast to strike action among other staff groups, no other clinicians can provide cover for consultants, so any planned care delivered by junior doctors or other healthcare professionals, that requires even remote consultant supervision will need to be rescheduled.
This means a significant amount of planned care will be affected, and many services will have avoided scheduling planned appointments altogether.
Dr Paula Cowan, Regional Medical Director for Primary Care for NHS England – North West, said: “With both consultants and junior doctors striking on the same day, this unique period of action will affect almost all routine care and put additional pressure on our urgent and emergency care services.
“Please continue to come forward for the care you need, including using 999 and A&E for life-threatening situations, and 111 online for less urgent health advice. You should use GP and pharmacy services as normal, including attending planned appointments unless told otherwise.
“We’re very grateful to the public for using the NHS wisely during this period when we will be prioritising emergency care.”
Using 111 online gives the same responses as the phone service, but may give a quicker answer than contacting the phone line. In addition, community pharmacies offer a range of services and have a wealth of information and expertise if someone needs advice.
GP and pharmacy services will be available in the normal way during industrial action, search online for ‘find a pharmacy’ or click Find a pharmacy – NHS (www.nhs.uk) for details.
Patients who haven’t been contacted or informed that their planned appointment has been postponed are also urged to attend as normal.
Now in the tenth month of industrial action across the NHS, which has seen more than 885,000 inpatient and outpatient appointments rescheduled across England, staff continue to work hard to provide patients with the best possible care.
Further coordination consultants and junior doctors industrial action is planned for early October across three days (2 – 4 October), as well as action by Society of Radiographers.