The NHS in Sussex is urging people to ‘Help Us Help You’ over the next two weeks with planned Industrial Action ahead.
The British Medical Association (BMA), British Dental Association (BDA) and Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association (HCSA) are planning 120 hours of continuous junior doctors’ strike action from 7.00am on Thursday 13 July until 7.00am on Tuesday 18 July.
Then a day later, consultant doctors and dentists will be taking strike action for 48 hours from 7.00am on Thursday 20 July until 7.00am on Saturday 22 July.
During the two days of action, consultants will continue to provide emergency services but routine services will be impacted.
Health and care leaders in Sussex are working together to maintain patient safety, but they are warning that the impact of these strikes will be challenging for local services due to the length of time that they are continuing for.
Emergency and critical care will be prioritised and will continue to be available for those who need it, but with a reduced workforce during the industrial action it is likely that there will be delays for those patients who attend emergency departments but do not have time-critical or life threatening conditions and changes to other services.
NHS leaders are urging the public to support the NHS to help services to manage patient care over the planned strike days. It is important the public play their part and ‘Help Us Help You’ to ensure people are able to access the care and support they need. Local people are asked to take the following actions:
- To think very carefully about choosing the most appropriate NHS service for your needs and only use 999 and A&E departments for serious or life-threatening emergencies, such as chest pain, severe bleeding or breathing difficulties. For anything that isn’t a life-saving emergency, to use an alternative NHS service and to use NHS 111 as the first port of call either online or by phone.
- To know that if you do need support and care, it may take longer than you might expect to be seen and treated, so please be patient and continue to use the most appropriate service for your needs.
- To please collect family and friends from hospital as soon as they are ready to be discharged, and support the discharge process to available community beds, to allow acute hospital beds to be freed up for those who need them most.
- To stay away from our hospitals if you have symptoms of flu or Covid or have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, unless it is an emergency.
Dr Dinesh Sinha, Chief Medical Officer at NHS Sussex, said:
“As ever, our priority is patient safety and all health and care partners are working hard to be able to provide high quality NHS care to our local communities, patients, families and carers.
“However, this is the longest strike action we will have seen this year, and with junior doctors and then consultants planning back to back industrial action, there will be an impact on the level of services we are able to provide.
“The NHS in Sussex and our partners have put a range of measures in place to ensure that those most unwell can get the care they need, but we do need the public’s help.
“Using alternative services to A&E when it isn’t a life-threatening emergency will ensure that Emergency Departments are available for those most unwell. In previous junior doctor industrial action, the Emergency Departments in Sussex continued to see high numbers of attendances, which on some days was even higher than when no strikes were taking place and many people could have been treated elsewhere.
“Patient safety is our absolute priority and so we are asking for the public to help us help you over the coming weeks.”
Plans have been put in place for the industrial action including:
- Community response teams who can support people in their own homes and avoid a hospital admission where possible;
- Ensuring access to ‘virtual wards’ which are providing out of hospital care and supporting people so that they do not need to go to hospital in the first place or so they can be discharged sooner;
- Focusing on discharge this week so people who are medically ready to leave hospital are able to do so;
- Increasing the availability of Minor Injury Unit and Urgent Treatment Centre teams, with some services opening on additional days over the weekend and on Bank Holidays.
Planned appointments and clinics are expected to be affected but people are being urged to continue to attend their appointments unless they are contacted directly by the NHS.
Patients also do not need to contact their NHS service or team in advance, the team will contact patients directly if an appointment needs to be rescheduled.
Pharmacies, walk in centres, minor injury units and urgent treatment centres will continue to be available. These are open during the industrial action and can help people with a range of injuries and illnesses. See the full list of open services.