Patients urged to ‘choose the right care’ during industrial action

People living in Humber and North Yorkshire are being asked to use NHS services responsibly, as junior doctors and consultants begin a further three days of coordinated strike action.

Staffing levels will be reduced to those typically seen on Christmas Day during the latest walkout by members of the British Medical Association (BMA) which began at 7am today (Monday 2 October).

The NHS says the industrial action by junior doctors and consultants will have a significant impact on planned and routine care, with thousands of appointments already cancelled in advance of the strikes.

And while cover will be provided in hospital emergency departments, NHS organisations warn that patients visiting an A&E may face lengthy waits to be seen “unless it’s a genuine life and limb emergency”.

NHS Humber and North Yorkshire Integrated Care Board (ICB) is asking patients to “talk before they walk” and contact NHS 111 first if they have a medical issue that is urgent, but is not an emergency.

There’s more information on when to call 999 and when to go to A&E on the NHS UK website and there’s useful local information available on the Let’s Get Better website.

NHS Humber and North Yorkshire ICB Executive Director of Clinical and Professional, Dr Nigel Wells, said: “While I sympathise with my clinical colleagues and understand why some are participating in these strikes, the disruption to planned and routine care is significant and will regrettably have an impact on patients.

“The NHS is working hard to make sure there are resources in place to protect emergency treatment, critical care, neonatal care, maternity, and trauma, and ensure patients who have waited the longest for elective care and cancer surgery are prioritised, but it’s highly likely the NHS will be under significant and sustained pressure during the industrial action, particularly in A&E departments.

“Regardless of any strike action taking place, it is really important that patients who need urgent medical care continue to come forward as normal, especially in emergency and life-threatening cases – when someone is seriously ill or injured, or their life is at risk.

“If people need urgent medical help or advice, or are unsure about whether to go to hospital or not, I would encourage people to contact NHS 111 – either online, through the NHS App, or over the telephone – unless it is a life-threatening emergency when they should absolutely call 999.”

The NHS is only rescheduling appointments and procedures where necessary and will rebook immediately, where possible.

If you have not been contacted by the NHS, please attend your appointment as planned. The NHS will contact you if your appointment needs to be rescheduled due to strike action.

GP practices will continue to be open during the industrial action. Please continue to attend your GP and dental appointments unless you are contacted and told otherwise.

If you run out of prescription medicine ‘out of hours’, the urgent medicines service enables a patient to visit a local pharmacy to receive an emergency supply of repeat medication. A patient can go to a pharmacy without a referral from NHS 111, a GP practice or an urgent and emergency care setting (unless it’s a controlled drug when patients should contact NHS 111 in the first instance). 

NHS national medical director, Professor Sir Stephen Powis, added: “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.”