Residents in Norfolk and Waveney are being urged to think NHS 111 first and to only attend an Emergency Department if it’s absolutely necessary to ensure that care is available to patients who need it most during planned industrial action by doctors next week.
The British Medical Association (BMA) has announced that junior doctors will take part in industrial action day and night, from 7am on Thursday 13 July until 7am on Tuesday 18 July. Senior doctors and hospital consultants will then also be striking for a further 48 hours, from 7am on Thursday 20 July until 7am on Saturday 22 July.
These strikes will impact both routine and emergency care.
It is really important people do not delay seeking help from the NHS if they feel unwell, but we need to be aware that things will be working differently and with fewer staff than normal on these days.
The best way to get urgent medical help is to visit 111.nhs.uk 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.
But, if it’s a life-threatening emergency, please do call 999 or come 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.
- 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.
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.
All of our hospitals will also significantly reduce the number of planned or elective services (routine operations, procedures and outpatient appointments) during this time, to allow remaining staff to focus on providing emergency and inpatient care.
We understand how frustrating this can be for patients and we are sorry that many people will have appointments rearranged.
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.
But, 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.
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. But, please think twice and think 111 first for other issues.
Dr Frankie Swords, Executive Medical Director at NHS Norfolk and Waveney, said: “We will continue to work across the system to ensure we maintain emergency and life-preserving care during industrial action. We urge anyone with a true emergency for example signs of a stroke or heart attack, or bleeding that won’t stop, to please use our emergency services as normal. As always, we will see and treat patients with the greatest clinical need before those with less severe issues.
“We will need to reduce the number of appointments and procedures we have planned in order to do this during the industrial action though. We appreciate how frustrating this can be for our patients and we are committed to keeping disruption to a minimum. Where appointments have had to be cancelled, these will be rescheduled as quickly as possible, and we urge people to please be kind and respectful towards our staff needing to call and reschedule appointments.”