“Use health services wisely” call as NHS strikes approach

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Health leaders across Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes are urging local people to choose services wisely ahead of widespread strike action in the NHS over the next two weeks.

Junior doctors will undertake strike action for five days from 6:59am on Thursday 13 July to the same time on Tuesday 18 July, before consultants begin a 48-hour strike from 7:00am on Thursday 20 July until the same time on Saturday 22 July.  After that, radiologists will then take two days of strike action from 8am on Tuesday 25 July until the same time on Thursday 27 July.

Hospitals will run differently, with resources prioritised in order to provide urgent and emergency services, maternity services and ward based care.  This will result in hospitals having to make the difficult decision to re-arrange many of their non-urgent operations, treatments and routine appointments.  Where this is the case, patients will be contacted directly.

We are urging our local population to choose health and care services wisely and take simple steps to ensure care is available to patients who need it most. This includes using 111 Online as the first port of call for health needs and continuing to attend Emergency Departments only if it is a life-threatening emergency.

Many GP practices and pharmacies will be running as usual during the strike, but up to a quarter of local practices may be affected by the industrial action as they provide opportunities for those who are training to become GPs.

Dr Sarah Whiteman, Chief Medical Director for Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Integrated Care Board, said:

“We are encouraging local people to think carefully before using NHS services over the next two weeks.

“You should only attend an accident and emergency department if you require emergency, life-saving care.  Anybody needing non-urgent care should seek help from 111 Online in the first instance at 111.nhs.uk.

“The most recent industrial action by junior doctors in June saw 106,000 hospital appointments postponed over the course of three days.  This longer series of strike actions is likely to cause significant disruption. “We expect services to be busier than usual, and there are likely to be longer waiting times, particularly at our hospitals’ Emergency Departments.”

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