The NHS in the South East is asking patients to seek urgent care if they need it during industrial action next week (Monday (6/2) and Tuesday (7/2) and continue to attend appointments as planned unless contacted to rearrange.
Patients should use services wisely by going to NHS 111 online as the first port of call for health needs and continuing to call 999 in a life-threatening emergency. General practice, community pharmacies, and dentistry are not impacted by strike action and the public should continue to access these services as needed on strike days.
The NHS will contact anyone whose appointment needs to be rescheduled due to strike action. If the NHS has not contacted you, it is important to attend appointments as planned.
Nurses in some local NHS organisations, including NHS Trusts, are striking but not every local area is impacted. In all cases, priority will be given to those patients with the most clinically urgent health needs.
Dr Vaughan Lewis, NHS England’s Medical Director for the South East, said: “The NHS is working hard to keep patients safe during strikes, while delivering the best care possible. The NHS is asking patients to seek care if they need to during industrial action and to continue to attend appointments as planned unless they have been contacted to request that appointments are rearranged.
“It is important that people continue coming forward for treatment, whether it is 111 online for non-life-threatening care, making use of your local pharmacy or General Practice, or dialling 999 in a life-threatening emergency.
“I would also ask 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.”
Some staff in ambulance trusts also plan to strike. As ever, the trusts will be working hard to respond to patients and prioritising their response to the most seriously ill and injured patients. Anyone not facing a life-threatening emergency is likely to wait longer for a response or be directed to alternative care.
The NHS has been preparing extensively for industrial action and for winter, with plans already in place to manage additional demand including 24/7 control centres, additional bed capacity, more mental health support for ambulance services and more community falls services.
People are encouraged to use the NHS 111 online service. After entering answers about health needs online, the service makes an assessment and directs you to the best place for your care – this can include a consultation with a pharmacist, a call back from a nurse, or visiting a same day urgent treatment centre or A&E.
NHS England and local NHS areas have plans in place to ensure life-saving care continues and to minimise disruption to patient care.