British Medical Association (BMA) and Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association (HCSA) members will take part in a four-day strike from 6.59am Tuesday 11 April to 6.59am Saturday 15 April.
The 96 hours of industrial action by junior doctors will come on the back of the Easter bank holiday, during which some services will be closed, and high levels of staff are on annual leave due to school holidays.
The days leading into and immediately after bank holiday weekends are usually challenging for the NHS, so significant disruption to services is expected. It is vital the public is aware of the pressure the health service will be under and know the best way to access care during that time. People should continue to attend hospital, GP and dental appointments unless they are contacted and told otherwise.
Dr David Levy, medical director of NHS Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care Board, which organises health services for the region, has urged people to make NHS 111 Online their first port of call for non-emergency health needs. NHS 111 Online is available by visiting https://111.nhs.uk/
Dr Levy said: “We ask people to continue to use services wisely during industrial action and take simple steps to help ensure care is available to those who need it most. If you need health advice on a day of strike action, but it is not an emergency, try NHS 111 Online and a clinician will call you back if needed. Please continue to only use 999 or A&E in emergency and life-threatening cases – when someone is seriously ill or injured, or their life is at risk.
“During strike action 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. We will only cancel appointments and procedures where it is necessary and will reschedule immediately, where possible. The NHS will contact you if your appointment needs to be rescheduled. If you have not been contacted, please attend your appointment as planned.
“The public’s support during previous periods of industrial action has been invaluable and we are immensely grateful to them for continuing to use NHS services appropriately during these times of pressure.”
Almost half of all hospital doctors in the country are junior doctors – more than 50,000. Junior doctors are qualified doctors who have anywhere up to eight years’ experience working as a hospital doctor, depending on their specialty, or up to three years in general practice. Junior doctors work in almost every part of a busy hospital, including in A&E, where they might diagnose patients, put them under anaesthetic, write prescriptions, support the process of admission and discharge, maintain the flow of patients through the hospital and ensure beds are available for those who need them the most. They are also an important part of the teams for planned in-patient appointments, as well as out-patient clinics
The number of junior doctors based in GP practices who will be taking industrial action is smaller and GP practices will continue to be open during the junior doctors strike. However, GP practices and pharmacies are an important part of the response from the local NHS to make sure that urgent patients continue to be seen as a priority and are likely to be under increased pressure.
For FAQs about upcoming industrial action, please visit https://www.england.nhs.uk/long-read/information-for-the-public-on-industrial-action/