NHS braced for prolonged junior doctor and consultant strikes

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Even as the NHS celebrated its 75th anniversary on Wednesday last week (July 5), the spectre of further industrial action by junior doctors and consultants this month loomed heavy.

Junior doctors are expected to strike for 120 hours from 7am on Thursday July 13 to 7am on Tuesday July 18. Consultants will then strike for 48 hours, from 7am on Thursday 20 July to 7am on Saturday 22 July.

“We anticipate and are planning for the action to have a significant impact on services provided across all areas of the NHS,” said NHS Kent and Medway’s Chief Medical Officer Kate Langford. “This includes our hospitals, Accident and Emergency departments, primary care (GP practices) and mental health services.”

The latest strikes are expected to pose serious challenges to all NHS services in Kent and Medway, which have already been beleaguered by understaffing, long waiting lists and the after-effects of previous strike action. As a result, the NHS continues to implore the public to carefully consider which services they engage, to ensure those most in need are able to access care.

The public is requested to use 111 online as the first port of call for health needs and to only use 999 in a life-threatening emergency.

“Throughout the strikes, the 111/999 phone lines are likely to be very busy. We are urging anyone with non-urgent care needs to first seek help from NHS 111 online,” Ms Langford said.

Patients who need urgent medical care are urged to continue to come forward as normal, especially in emergency and life-threatening cases. Care remains available through other NHS services, including urgent treatment centres and pharmacies, which should be used for less urgent health needs.

Ms Langford reiterated that the NHS in Kent and Medway was working hard to protect emergency treatment, critical care, neonatal care, maternity, and trauma, and to ensure that patients who had waited longest for elective care and cancer surgery were prioritised.

The NHS will only reschedule appointments and procedures where necessary, and will immediately re-book, where possible.  Patients impacted by the strike action will be contacted directly. If you have not been contacted, your appointment will take place as planned.

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