The NHS is urging the public not to put unnecessary strain on health services ahead of the junior doctor strikes taking place from 7am tomorrow (Friday) to 7am on Tuesday, August 15.
It is reminding the public to attend accident and emergency departments only if they need treatment for a very serious illness or injury.
Even with the careful planning that is taking place, routine and emergency care are likely to be significantly affected, says the NHS.
Dr Timothy Ho, medical director, Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Staff continue to work hard to provide patients with the best possible care during the strike period.
“First and foremost, we aim to keep people safe during the planned strikes. Hospital services will be particularly affected, and we will redirect available resources to protect emergency treatment, intensive care, new-born care, maternity, and trauma. In outpatients and theatres, we will continue to prioritise cancer treatments, and those patients who have waited the longest for elective procedures.
“Routine appointments may be rescheduled. If you have not been contacted by the Trust, we would advise that you attend your appointment as planned, but please continue to check for updates.”
General practice, community pharmacies, and dentistry are open, and the public should continue to access these services as needed on strike days.
Dr Lalitha Iyer, chief medical officer for NHS Frimley ICB, said: “There are steps we can all take to make sure we use the most appropriate service for our needs and ensure that help can be prioritised to those who need it most.
“It’s very important that people who need medical care come forward, especially when someone has a life-threatening illness or injury. A range of services are available to ensure Accident and Emergency Departments (A&E) are freed up to treat those with life-threatening and critical illnesses or injuries. Care for life-threatening or serious illness/injury will be prioritised.
“If you are unwell or injured, it’s important to choose the right service to make sure you get the best treatment as quickly as possible.
“Your General Practice and local pharmacies are open during the period of the strike, so please continue to use these services as normal. If you are unsure of what service to choose, visit NHS 111 online. It includes a symptom checker and can connect you to a nurse, emergency dentist, pharmacist or book you into the local Minor Injuries Unit in Bracknell or A&E department if your condition is more serious.
“As well as being booked in via NHS 111 to the Minor Injury Unit you can also walk in for things such as sprains and strains, suspected broken limbs, minor head injuries and minor scalds and burns. The service is open 7 days a week from 8am to 8pm. X-ray is available Sundays to Fridays.
“If your child is unwell, and you’re not sure where the best place to go for advice is, visit the NHS Frimley Healthier Together website or download the app. Designed by local experts, it provides support to parents and carers to help them manage a range of common childhood illnesses.”
Using 111 will help the NHS treat patients in the right setting during the week of the industrial action.
There are steps we can all take to make sure we use the most appropriate service for our needs to support our busy health services. Visit our Choose the Right Service page for details of local services.