Fringe Box



Junior Doctors Strike – Royal Surrey Is Very Busy But ‘Coping Well’

Published on: 21 Dec, 2023
Updated on: 21 Dec, 2023

The Royal Surrey County Hospital

By Martin Giles

Junior doctors are on strike at the Royal Surrey County Hospital. The industrial action is a national dispute between the government and trade unions about pay and terms and conditions.

The strike action commenced at 7am yesterday (December 20) and continues to 7am on Saturday, December 23. The current walkout will be followed by a six-day strike at the start of January, the longest in NHS history.

NHS England medical director Prof Sir Stephen Powis told the BBC that nationwide the situation was further complicated by the holiday season. In the coming three weeks, only four weekdays in the NHS will be unaffected by holidays or industrial action.

“These strikes come at a time that will cause huge disruption to the NHS, with services already feeling the strain of winter pressure,” he said.

RSCH ‘coping well’

Matt Jarratt, chief operating officer at the Royal Surrey NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This week has been very busy but we have robust plans in place to cover the period of industrial action and assure the safety and welfare of our patients and colleagues.

“We are coping well and this is thanks to our hard-working staff, many of whom are working in different ways to ensure the provision of essential services.

“However, due to the industrial action, we have needed to rearrange some outpatient appointments and planned procedures and we know this has a real impact upon our patients, their families and carers. We are working hard to re-book these for the earliest possible opportunity and are in contact with all those directly affected.”

According to The Guardian, the 28 days of industrial action junior doctors have staged this year and the nine days of fresh strikes starting on Wednesday have led to tensions with more senior colleagues, who are “worn out” from having to cover for striking junior doctors as well as doing their usual shifts.

Many consultants are frustrated that junior doctors in England are striking twice – this week and from 3 January – at the same time as the NHS comes under its most intense pressure of the year because of the surge in winter illnesses, staff holidays and lack of social care support.

The BMA says the junior doctors in the NHS in England are taking strike action to:

  • achieve full pay restoration to reverse the steep decline in pay faced by junior doctors since 2008/9
  • agree on a mechanism with the government to prevent any future declines against the cost of living and inflation
  • reform the DDRB (Doctors’ and Dentists’ Review Body) process so pay increases can be recommended independently and fairly to safeguard the recruitment and retention of junior doctors.

Advice to patients

Matt Jarrett (COO) detailed advice to RSCH patients. He said: “Our local community can support us by seeking help from the most appropriate health services. If you are unwell and unsure where to go, please use NHS 111 online or call 111 for 24/7 advice.

“Regardless of any strike action, it is important that patients who are seriously ill or injured and need urgent medical care continue to come forward as normal, especially in emergencies and life-threatening situations. Our Emergency Department (A&E) remains open 24 hours a day.”

According to the RSCH website:


If you have an appointment please attend unless you are told otherwise.

Please do not call to check if your appointment is going ahead. Someone will be in touch with you directly if we need to rearrange your appointment.

How to access urgent and emergency care during industrial action

Please be aware that hospitals are likely to be busier than usual. You can help manage this challenging period by seeking help from the most appropriate health services, and only attending A&E for serious accidents and emergencies.

If you are unwell, use NHS 111 online for 24/7 advice about the most appropriate care for your needs, or call 111 – they will provide medical advice and direct you to the best care for your needs.

Regardless of any strike action, it is important that patients who need urgent medical care continue to come forward as normal, especially in emergencies and life-threatening cases – when someone is seriously ill or injured, or their life is at risk.

If you have a life-threatening emergency, our Emergency Department (A&E) remains open 24 hours a day.

Minor Injuries Unit

The Minor Injuries Unit in Haslemere is open seven days a week, 8am-5pm, including during periods of industrial action.

You do not need an appointment and can receive treatment for:

  • wounds – cuts, bruises and grazes
  • minor burns
  • suspected broken bones, strains, and sprains
  • minor eye injuries
  • minor head injuries (with no loss of consciousness)
  • removal of foreign bodies from ears, eyes or nose or from under the skin (splinters)
  • bites and stings

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