Norfolk and Waveney residents urged to plan ahead during junior doctor industrial action across the New Year period

3rd January 2024

Norfolk and Waveney residents are urged not to delay seeking help from the NHS if they feel unwell this winter, as the British Medical Association (BMA) has announced that junior doctors will undertake a total of nine days of joint industrial action across January.

Junior doctors will take industrial action from 7am on 3 January until 7am on 9 January.

This will coincide with what is traditionally one of the NHS’s busiest periods, with emergency services remaining very busy over the New Year period.

NHS organisations across Norfolk and Waveney are working together to ensure robust plans are in place to maintain the safety and welfare of our patients and our colleagues during the upcoming strike action. 

Residents are reminded that the best way to get urgent medical help is to visit or call 111 for anything that feels urgent, or if you are unsure what to do.

The 111 team can often help there and then on the phone, but for more serious issues, they can also direct you to the most appropriate place, including arranging a home visit or booking in a timed appointment at an emergency department.

If it is, however, a serious or life-threatening emergency, please do call 999 or go straight to your local emergency department.

Things which everyone can do to help the NHS right now, include:

  • 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.
  • Supporting people to look after their mental health. If you need urgent mental health help, call 111 and choose the mental health option.
  • For non-urgent cases when needing medical advice and it’s not an emergency, speak to your GP practice or a pharmacist, or attend a minor injuries unit (Cromer) or walk in centre (Norwich).
  • If you have a medical appointment and are not contacted directly, you should continue to attend your appointment. If unable to make any NHS appointment, please contact the number on appointment letters so that it can be reallocated to another patient.
  • Receiving your flu and COVID-19 vaccinations as soon as they’re offered.
  • Keeping a well-stocked medicine cabinet to be prepared for common winter illnesses.

Our focus as a health and care system will be on maintaining emergency and life-preserving care during industrial action, and we will continue to see and treat patients with the greatest clinical need before those with less severe issues.

If you have a medical appointment and are not contacted directly, please continue to attend your appointment as usual. If you are unable to make any NHS appointment, please remember to cancel any booked transport, and please contact the number on appointment letters so that it can be reallocated to another patient.

If you are contacted by the hospital to cancel your appointment, we urge people to be kind and respectful towards our staff making these calls, and please know that they will be working hard to reschedule these as quickly as possible.

Dr. Frankie Swords, Executive Medical Director, at NHS Norfolk and Waveney, said: “We anticipate that we will have to cancel and rearrange a number of appointments, procedures and operations to allow staff who would have been doing them, to cover the work usually done by our junior doctors.

“We understand how frustrating this can be for patients and we are sorry that many people will have appointments rearranged.

“What does remain imperative, is that any members of the public that need care continue to come forward and attend their appointments across these days, especially in emergency and life-saving cases.

“We urge anyone to come forward if they have a true emergency as normal, and to still attend routine appointments unless they have been specifically told not to come, as we are committed to keeping disruption in these services to a minimum.”  

NHS Norfolk and Waveney and partners continue to run the Warm and Well campaign which includes tips for keeping you and your loved ones well and hardship support and advice. For more information about where to go and helpful advice, visit: