People are being urged to plan ahead and to choose NHS 111 first for any urgent health needs during the Easter bank holiday weekend and the planned industrial action planned for the four days after that.
The British Medical Association (BMA), alongside the Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association (HCSA) and British Dental Association (BDA), have announced another set of strike action for junior doctors and dental core trainees to run continuously for 96 hours from 7am, Tuesday 11 April to 7am, Saturday 15 April.
This means that planned or elective care will be significantly reduced during that 4-day period, so that consultants and other senior health staff are redeployed to provide emergency and inpatient care.
The action comes directly after a four-day bank holiday weekend (Friday 7 April – Monday 10 April) where emergency services are often busier than normal.
Local NHS trusts have undertaken a significant amount of planning to ensure staffing rotas are covered to keep patients already in hospital safe and well cared for, and to keep our emergency departments open and safe for people with true emergencies. However, it is anticipated that Emergency Departments across the system will be very busy over this period.
The public are therefore reminded to please only attend an Emergency Department if it’s absolutely necessary during the Easter bank holiday and junior doctor industrial strike action this April. Chest pain, difficulty breathing, bleeding that won’t stop and signs of a stroke are examples of medical emergencies and people should always call 999 or attend an emergency department for these conditions. However, for more minor but still urgent health needs, the public are encouraged to use 111 first.
People can also help the NHS by preparing for the bank holiday weekend and considering the service they need before accessing it. This will help services to manage demand and to see people as quickly as possible.
Here are some things that people can do in the lead up and during this period to look after themselves and their loved ones:
- Check your prescription medicines now. Make sure you and your loved ones have enough supply of any prescribed medicines to last you over this period. If your medication will run out over the bank holiday, consider whether you need to place an order now.
- Think NHS 111 first. For anything which feels urgent, or if you don’t know what to do, visit https://111.nhs.uk/ or call 111 and you will be directed to the most appropriate service. Trained NHS advisors can provide health advice, connect you to a healthcare professional, arrange a face-to-face appointment including home visits and out of hours appointments, or give you an arrival time if you need to go to your local emergency department.
- If you need urgent mental health help, call 111 and choose the mental health option.
- Remember self-care. Many common ailments can be treated at home with a well-stocked first aid kit.Heartburn and hangovers for example can be treated at home with a well-stocked medicine cabinet.
- Visit your local pharmacy. Many pharmacies are open over bank holidays and can offer expert advice on common conditions such as colds, sore throats and rashes. Check pharmacy Easter opening hours in advance – https://www.england.nhs.uk/east-of-england/nhs-england-and-nhs-improvement-east-of-englands-work/pharmacy-information/
- In case of emergency. Only call 999 or attend accident and emergency departments for serious accidents and for genuine emergencies, like chest pain, breathing difficulties, signs of a stroke or bleeding that won’t stop. Please do not delay in calling if you need this service.
- Check in on family members, friends, neighbours to ensure people remain well at home
Thank you for continuing to support our hard working staff and volunteers as they work to keep patients safe during this busy period.
If you have a medical appointment and are not contacted directly, you should continue to attend for your appointment. If you are unable to make any NHS appointment, please contact the number on appointment letters so that it can be reallocated to another patient.
The guidance can be found here.
Dr. Frankie Swords, Executive Medical Director at NHS Norfolk and Waveney, said: “Our services are there if you need them over the bank holiday and during upcoming industrial action, so please do not delay if you need urgent or emergency medical help – we are there to support you.
“But, in preparation for this busy time I would really urge you to take a look at your supply of prescribed medications now and order your repeat prescription if you are set to run out between 7 and 15 April. And make sure that you have a good supply of self-help medications too – your pharmacist is always happy to advise.
“Finally, if you need urgent medical help at any time, please do call NHS 111 who have knowledge of the local services open and available to help you, so you can be seen as soon as possible. This service operates 24/7, 7 days a week and 365 days a year and please continue to call 999 for life threatening emergencies.”