An unprecedented period of prolonged industrial action by junior doctors and hospital consultants is likely to cause significant disruption to NHS services in Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire over the coming days.
Junior doctors at the Royal United Hospital in Bath, the Great Western Hospital in Swindon and Salisbury District Hospital are due to walk out for five days from 7am on Thursday 13 July.
This strike is scheduled to end at 7am on Tuesday 18 July, just two days before consultants at the three hospitals observe a 48-hour period of industrial action, during which time cover similar to Christmas Day will be provided.
Throughout the duration of each strike, hospital services are likely to be under extreme pressure, with planned appointments and procedures postponed, and waiting times for urgent and emergency care longer than usual.
As such, people are reminded to use local services appropriately, and to only visit hospital or call 999 for the most serious health conditions, such as broken bones, loss of consciousness, significant bleeding and severe chest pain.
Dr Amanda Webb, Chief Medical Officer, Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire Integrated Care Board, said: “Any period of industrial action within the NHS is a real cause for concern, but to have two almost back-to-back is something we have yet to experience.
“Our hard-working teams pulled out all the stops during previous strikes to keep services running, and they will be doing the same again over the coming days, but given the unprecedented nature of the situation this time around, public support is now even more crucial.
“Pharmacies, GP practices and NHS 111 will all be open as usual during the strikes, and while they may be busier than normal, staff will still be on hand to provide care for minor illness and injury and non-urgent health conditions.”
Any person due to attend hospital on one or more of the strike days for a pre-planned appointment or procedure will be contacted directly if their visit needs to be postponed.
Alternative appointments will be offered at the earliest available opportunity and those who have not been contacted should attend as normal.
Booking staff are working extra hard to contact all affected patients as quickly as possible and people are asked not to call ahead to see if their appointment is taking place.
NHS 111 online, which can be accessed at any time of day from any tablet, laptop or smartphone, is the best way to access instant person-specific advice and information, with the platform also able to recommend treatment options and, where appropriate, make referrals into other nearby NHS services.
For further information about local health and care services, including those that do not require an appointment, visit www.bswtogether.org.uk/yourhealth.