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Local NHS Services Gear Up for Doctors’ Strike Action and Advise Public How to Help

Published on: 8 Apr, 2023
Updated on: 8 Apr, 2023

By Martin Giles

Surrey’s NHS is preparing for the biggest strike action in its history and calls on the public for its support as critical services are prioritised.

Surrey Heartlands Health and Care Partnership – which brings together NHS organisations and wider partners across Surrey – is preparing for the biggest strike action in the history of the NHS, with significant disruption to services expected due to further planned industrial action by junior doctors who are part of the British Medical Association (BMA) and the Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association (HCSA).

Junior doctors make up around half of all doctors in the NHS.

The Royal Surrey County Hospital where many junior doctors, due to strike next week, work.

Health Secretary Steve Barclay

In a letter to the BMA on Wednesday, Health Secretary Steve Barclay said he was serious about ‘rapidly settling this dispute,’ But yesterday the BMA responded by saying a credible offer – one that indicates to them “the Secretary of State is really is serious about pay restoration and willing to negotiate in a timely manner to resolve 15 years of pay erosion” – could stop the strikes which are due to start on Tuesday.

In March, HCSA President Dr Naru Narayanan said: “The government has gambled with patient safety for too long by ignoring the link between pay cuts and dangerous staffing levels. Junior doctors are taking matters into their own hands to secure a viable NHS.

Locally, health and care organisations are working together to minimise the impact on services and patient care. The local NHS is sharing information and advice about the impact expected, and how to access urgent care if needed during the four-day period of industrial action, which runs from 6:59am on Tuesday, April 11 until 6.59am on Saturday, April 15.

Dr Charlotte Canniff

Dr Charlotte Canniff, Joint Chief Medical Officer for Surrey Heartlands Health and Care Partnership and Surrey GP said: “The periods before, and immediately after, bank holiday weekends are always busy times for the NHS and, with these four days of planned industrial action coming straight after a four-day bank holiday weekend, we expect to see a greater impact – and a greater level of disruption.”

“As a health and care system, we will prioritise our resources to protect emergency treatment, critical care, neonatal care, trauma services, and urgent cancer care – so we can treat those patients who are critically ill and urgently need our help.”

In a statement, the Care Partnership said: “…some outpatients appointments and planned operations [will be] rescheduled so frontline teams can prioritise critical services and caring for those who are seriously ill.

“We expect some junior doctors working in Surrey to take part and we fully support them, whether they choose to participate or not.”

As this period of planned action follows the Easter bank holiday weekend and will last longer, the impact is expected to be much greater than recent industrial action in the NHS.

Advice to the public

Advice given by Surrey Heartlands is: “During this period of planned industrial action we are encouraging residents to help the local NHS, during what we expect to be a particularly challenging time, by following this advice:

  • Regardless of any strike action taking place, it’s important that patients who need urgent medical care continue to come forward as normal, especially in emergency and life-threatening cases – when someone is seriously ill or injured, or their life is at risk.
  • The NHS is asking patients to use services wisely during industrial action, which includes using 111 online as the first port of call for urgent health advice – but when it’s not a medical emergency – (or calling 111 if people do not have access to the internet).
  • People should only use 999 and A&E for serious or life-threatening conditions or medical emergencies (when someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk).
  • If people aren’t contacted, we are asking them to attend their appointment as planned. The NHS will contact people directly if appointments need to be rescheduled due to strike action.

“Industrial action places more pressure on local services so we would ask people to be patient and kind to staff if services are busier and waits in A&E and walk-in centres are longer than usual – and if people need urgent medical help they should continue to come forward by using NHS 111 or calling 999 if it’s a medical emergency” Dr Canniff added.”

Joss Bigmore

Joss Bigmore, the recently appointed chairman of the Royal Surrey NHS Trust said: “The timing of this industrial action is especially problematic as it comes immediately after the Easter bank holidays. But the RSCH is prepared and we are confident emergency and urgent care will not be impacted.

“However a significant number of less urgent procedures have had to be postponed for which we apologise.

“We support our junior doctors’ right to take this action and regret there has not yet been a successful negotiation. We are very grateful to everyone at the RSCH, and especially the consultant body, who will make sure the impact on our patients is minimised.

The Royal Surrey NHS Trust covers more that the Royal Surrey County Hospital


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Responses to Local NHS Services Gear Up for Doctors’ Strike Action and Advise Public How to Help

  1. M Durant Reply

    April 8, 2023 at 12:43 pm

    The big pharmacy inside of Sainsbury in Burpham is shutting down causing considerable problems to all the other pharmacies in the area.

    Customers from Sainsbury in Burpham have been going as far as Godalming to join a pharmacy. Expect queues and your medications not to be ready on time due to the higher volume of customers using the service due so many Loyds pharmacies shutting down suddenly around the country. I was at my local pharmacy and there was a long queue.

    Who is in charge of this shambles?

    Also I would like to point out that not everybody has internet access, some vulnerable people are unable to order their medications online.

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