Public urged to stay away from A&E departments except in “life or limb-threatening” situations ahead of strikes by junior doctors from the British Medical Association
THE public are being urged to stay away from local A&E departments except in “life or limb-threatening” situations ahead of strikes by junior doctors tomorrow (Wednesday).
Emergency departments are expected to be very busy as junior doctors who are members of the British Medical Association (BMA) walk out from 7am tomorrow until 7am on Saturday 23rd December – making it the longest walkout in NHS history.
Despite extensive planning and cover arrangements in place, the strikes are expected to cause widespread disruption – from the impact on almost all routine care, to an extra admin burden and difficulties with discharging patients.
Deputy chief medical officer for the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Integrated Care Board, Dr Tim Cooper, said: “We are asking you to help your local NHS by taking simple steps during industrial action to look after yourselves, your loved ones and to check in on vulnerable family members and neighbours.
“No one should put off seeking urgent care in an emergency during the strike action, however we are urging people to only attend our emergency departments if it is a life or limb-threatening situation.
The NHS says it will prioritise urgent and emergency care as consultants step in to cover for junior doctors, who make up 50% of the medical workforce.
NHS national medical director Professor Sir Stephen Powis said: “These strikes come at a time that will cause huge disruption to the NHS, with services already feeling the strain of winter pressure.
“When you factor in the Christmas and new year break, these strikes will prolong that period of reduced activity and it also puts the health service on the back foot into the new year, which is a time where we see demand start to rise significantly.”
Anyone who has an appointment during the industrial action should continue to attend as planned, unless otherwise contacted.
Alternative services include pharmacies and urgent treatment centres as well as the Healthier Together app and 111 online.
If you have an urgent medical problem and you are not sure what to do, visit 111 online at 111.nhs.uk
You can also download the Healthier Together app for advice if you have children or carer responsibilities.