Advice to patients during industrial action 26 and 27 April, 2016
Junior doctors will be striking from 8am to 5pm each day, including withdrawal of cover in A&E departments. Essential care will be provided by senior staff. You can help the NHS cope by choosing the right service and attending A&E only if it is essential.
If you have a long-term health condition or you look after someone else – including, for example, elderly people or young children – it’s important that you know what to do if you need the NHS during the industrial action.
Apart from your GP or hospital, there’s a range of other primary care services that can offer help, such as your pharmacist, dentist or optician. There are also specific services provided by midwives, health visitors and specialist nurses – check you know how to contact anyone you might need to talk to.
If you need regular medication for yourself or someone you care for, be sure to get the prescription from your GP and collect the medicine from your pharmacist.
If you are pregnant, make sure you know how to contact your midwifery team if you need help or advice. If you are near your due date, check arrangements with your maternity unit.
Planned treatment and outpatient appointments
If you have a planned operation, procedure or outpatient appointment on a day when industrial action is taking place, your hospital will contact you if the appointment needs to be rearranged. If you have not been contacted by the hospital, you should check their website for additional advice. If you are still unsure what to do, contact the hospital direct.
Patients already in hospital will continue to receive normal care, with senior staff covering for junior doctors. Inpatients will be told if any changes to their planned treatment are needed because of the strike.
Your GP practice will be open and working as normal during the industrial action. GPs, however, may experience greater demand than normal over this period, so contact them early if you need advice or an appointment.
If you need emergency care, Accident and Emergency departments will be open to deal with serious and life-threatening conditions. As is always the case, only those adults and children with genuine emergency needs should go to A&E. Emergencies include:
major injuries, such as broken limbs or severe head injury
loss of consciousness
an acute confused state
severe chest pain
severe bleeding that can’t be stopped
severe allergic reactions
severe burns or scalds
Alternatives to A&E
If you become ill with a non-urgent condition and need advice, please visit Health A-Z for information or go to your local pharmacist. For more urgent conditions that you believe you can’t take care of yourself, you should contact your GP as usual, or call 111.
For minor injuries or illness (cuts, sprains, rashes and so forth) you could visit a walk-in centre, minor injuries unit or urgent care centre if the problem can’t wait for a GP appointment. Bear in mind that these services may be busy during the strike.