A message to all medical staff while we prepare for planned industrial action 13- 16 March

8th March 2023

On behalf of the medical directors and chief medical officers of all trusts across Norfolk and Waveney

Dear Colleagues,

I am writing to thank you personally for the continued hard work and commitment you have provided to our patients across Norfolk and Waveney Integrated Care System (ICS). I would also like to express my personal support and to offer you some reassurances as we approach the Junior Doctors’ industrial action dates.

As you will be aware, the British Medical Association (BMA), Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association (HCSA) and British Dental Association (BDA) have announced strike action, with Junior Doctors’ and Dental Core Trainees and Specialty Registrars taking industrial action to run continuously for 72 hours from 7am on Monday 13 March to 7am on Thursday 16 March.

The three-day strike will impact on both routine and emergency care, which we anticipate will significantly reduce the provision of our planned or elective services to allow remaining staff to focus on providing emergency and inpatient care.

Those of you that will be working during this period may be asked to work differently by your trust and I wanted to thank you for working as flexibly as you can to help keep our patients safe during this time.

We understand that the decision whether to participate in strike action is a difficult one.

We understand the strength of feeling of our people who are taking industrial action around the national issue of pay and conditions and we have been working hard to ensure services are as safe as possible during the days of industrial action.  

I want to assure you that if individual staff members decide to support strike action on these dates, that we understand and respect your decision, recognising that Junior Doctors and all other workers do have the right to take part in lawful industrial action.

We are working together, as a system to plan for this Industrial Action and will be communicating directly with our people and communities to do all we can to encourage them to come forward for appointments as planned, unless they have been contacted in advance, but to only attend our emergency services in the event of true medical emergencies.

The wellbeing of our workforce remains paramount and we will continue to work with union representatives and through our local staff networks to ensure people are kept up-to-date with relevant information, know where to access support, and where to ask questions.

In my January blog, I shared information on wellbeing, but I’ve included those links again here for reference:

Our #WeCareTogether website is a single point of access to 200 of the best NHS Health and Wellbeing  resources; free for all staff.  The resources include the SHAPES toolkit, practical tools developed by a Cambridgeshire GP and proven in General Practice to help improve your health and work-life balance. You can find more about SHAPES by viewing these one-minute videos.

The Resilient Team Academy also offers bite-sized videos and activities, and downloadable monthly workshops to help you create a resilient and healthy team without burning out.

Further information from Health Education England on how industrial action may impact on training for Doctors in Postgraduate Training programmes can be found here

Please note, that this industrial action is being held by the British Medical Association (BMA), Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association (HCSA) British Dental Association (BDA). If you are a member of a union that has not balloted their members, or a member of a union that balloted members, but this did not result in industrial action, please seek further advice from your Union Rep before considering Strike Action.

Thank you for everything you continue to do.

With best wishes,

Dr Frankie Swords
Executive Medical Director
NHS Norfolk and Waveney Integrated Care Board