Junior doctors in England are preparing for the longest strike in NHS history next week, and all hospitals in Lancashire and South Cumbria are expecting significant disruption.
The industrial action from 7am on Wednesday 3 January 2024 until 7am on Tuesday 9 January is part of an ongoing dispute between junior doctors and Government over the 2022/23 pay award.
The NHS is asking patients to choose services appropriately during this time, which includes using 111 online as the first port of call for health needs, and only using 999 if it is a serious or life-threatening emergency.
Junior doctors are qualified doctors who have anywhere up to eight years’ experience working as a hospital doctor, and they make up around half of all doctors in the NHS. During these strikes, other doctors will still be working but there will be a noticeable reduction in elective activity, and this may mean some appointments and procedures may need to be rescheduled.
Dr David Levy, medical director at NHS Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care Board, which organises health services for the region, said: “We have now seen more than a year of industrial action taking place across the NHS and staff are continuing to work hard to provide patients with the best possible care under the circumstances.
“We’re asking the public to play their part by taking simple steps during industrial action to look after themselves, their loved ones and checking in on vulnerable family members and neighbours.
“Hospitals will only reschedule appointments and procedures where necessary and aim to rebook at the earliest opportunity, but if we have not contacted you, please attend your appointment as planned.
“The NHS is working hard to minimise the risk to patient safety. This means we will prioritise resources to protect emergency treatment, critical care, neonatal care, maternity, and trauma, and ensure we prioritise patients who have waited the longest for elective care and cancer surgery.
“Because of the considerable impact these strikes will have, services are likely to feel different for patients, and longer waits are almost inevitable. Regardless of any strike action, it is really important that patients who need urgent medical care continue to come forward as normal, especially in emergency and serious life-threatening cases – when someone is seriously ill or injured, or their life is at risk.”
Anyone who needs urgent care should use NHS111 online 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.
GP practices will continue to be open during the junior doctors strike. Please continue to attend your GP and dental appointments, unless you are contacted and told otherwise.