Response to junior doctors Industrial Action (11 – 15 April, 2023)

18th April 2023

Dear Colleagues

On behalf of the Norfolk and Waveney Integrated Care System (ICS) we would like to personally thank you all and recognise the dedication and hard work shown to maintain patient safety during the recent junior doctor’s industrial action.

The Easter period is always a busy time for the NHS, and this industrial action was longer and came on the back of a long bank holiday weekend and during school holidays when more colleagues were likely to be on leave.

Thank you to all who worked together to mitigate the impact for our patients and community including our clinical staff, who worked differently to keep our patients safe 24 hours a day, throughout the 96-hour action.

We also would like to thank our administrative teams who, on top of their day job, contacted many patients to reorganise their planned care, and to keep them informed before during and after the industrial action, as well as for supporting the clinical staff on the days of industrial action. We know this has involved working longer hours and going above and beyond to support services in many ways.

To our digital and training staff who provided vital support to clinicians using unfamiliar systems and technology, to the operational teams, and senior managers who worked tirelessly to coordinate these efforts, trying hard to minimise the impact the action will have had on both patients and staff, and to all other staff members, volunteers, drivers and colleagues outside the NHS and across the system who have worked tirelessly during this incredibly busy week, we wanted to thank you all.

Unfortunately, we know there have been instances of negative behaviour from the public towards health and care staff across Norfolk and Waveney, particularly towards administrative staff needing to reschedule elective care appointments.

We wanted to reassure you that we are working to address this issue through a variety of different communication channels and public facing campaigns to tackle this issue head on. Abuse of any kind is not acceptable and will not be tolerated. These campaigns will urge people to be kind and respectful towards our staff who are working incredibly hard to provide the care they need.

We do not know yet whether there may be additional industrial action activity. The wellbeing of our workforce remains paramount and we understand that sustained industrial action will have an impact on the resilience of all of us. We will continue to work with organisations to provide and promote our local health and wellbeing offer across our staff networks to ensure you are kept up-to-date with relevant information, know where to access support, and where to ask questions.

We are incredibly proud of the way our health and care system in Norfolk and Waveney has come together at such speed given the complexities involved and the significant pressures faced by services. It has provided us with another opportunity to strengthen our approach to work more collaboratively with partners across the ICS system to deliver support and care our communities need.

The NHS has been through a period like no other, and recovery will take time. We wanted to applaud your positivity, flexibility and diligence and we are hugely grateful for your dedication to your local community.

With our sincerest thanks and best wishes,

Dr Frankie Swords, Executive Medical Director
NHS Norfolk and Waveney

Ema Ojiako, Executive Director of People
NHS Norfolk and Waveney

Tricia D’Orsi, Executive Director of Nursing
NHS Norfolk and Waveney

Tracey Bleakley, Chief Executive
NHS Norfolk and Waveney