Fringe Box



Pleas for Responsible Use of Health Services During Doctors’ Strike Action

Published on: 11 Aug, 2023
Updated on: 11 Aug, 2023

The Royal Surrey County Hospital

Health leaders are reminding people in Surrey to use services responsibly so frontline teams can prioritise critical services and those who need urgent or life-saving care during the industrial action which started this morning at 7am.

96 hours of continuous industrial action is planned by some Junior Doctors who are part of the British Medical Association (BMA). Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association (HCSA) and British Dental Association (BDA) will be on strike until 7am on Tuesday (August 15).

The BMA is currently reballoting its members to extend its mandate for strike action by a further six months as it seeks “pay restoration”.

In an interview with The Dragon editor Martin Giles, Louise Stead the CEO of the Royal Surrey NHS Trust said it was the biggest problem on her desk.

Dragon Interview: The Royal Surrey’s CEO, Louise Stead

Dr Bill Jewsbury, Medical Director at the Trust described the impact: “As we move into a further period of planned industrial action, given the timing and that we are in peak holiday season, with many of our staff already on planned annual leave, there is a genuine concern that this next four-day period of action, which runs until Tuesday morning, could be even more challenging as our teams work hard to fill the rotas so we can continue to provide essential urgent and emergency care.

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

“As we move into what we expect to be a busy and challenging few days, we are reminding people to use services responsibly and appropriately so our frontline teams, who continue to work incredibly hard, can prioritise critical services and make sure people who are critically ill get the care they need as quickly as possible.”


The trust is encouraging residents to continue to use services responsibly and appropriately:

  • If it’s not a medical emergency people should continue to use 111 online as the first port of call for urgent health advice and they will be linked in with the service they need – or call 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’s appointments or procedures have been affected by industrial action the local NHS will contact people directly to reschedule them as soon as possible. If people haven’t been contacted, they should attend as planned.

This advice comes as data reveals the true impact the ongoing dispute has had on services across Surrey Heartlands since the industrial action first started back in December last year.

Data from the first periods of industrial action back in December 2022 through to the last period of action we saw in July, is reported by Surrey Heartlands Health and Care Partnership to have shown:

  • 15,371 hospital and community outpatient appointments have been rescheduled on days of industrial action across Surrey Heartlands so frontline teams could prioritise delivering critical services
  • More than 1,618 inpatient appointments (which include planned procedures and operations) have been rescheduled on days of industrial action across Surrey Heartlands due to the local impact.

Dr Charlotte Canniff

Dr Charlotte Canniff, Joint Chief Medical Officer at Surrey Heartlands Health and Care Partnership added: “As a local health and care system we fully support all our workforce – whether they choose to take part in planned industrial action or not – but these new figures, which show the scale of the impact we are seeing locally, are concerning.

“We are working together to minimise the impact where possible but frontline teams are having to prioritise critical services and unfortunately this means rescheduling some appointments and procedures, where necessary.

“As we move into this next period of action, we expect services to be busier, with waiting times longer than usual, so I would ask people to be patient and support our frontline teams, across all services, as they do their best to get people the help and care they need.”

Recent meeting “pointless and irrelevant” says BMA

The co-chair of the BMA’s junior doctors committee branded a recent meeting with Secretary of State for Health Steve Barclay “pointless and irrelevant”.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning, Dr Robert Laurenson said junior doctors are always ready to talk to avert strikes but want any deal to reflect a 31.7 per cent loss in pay since 2008.

He added: “What is interesting is that there was a report that came out today that said that the cost of the action so far has been about £1bn, which is about what it would have cost to settle this back in October last year.

“So now we are moving into ideological and frankly indignant sort of territory when it comes to dealing with this government.”

The Health Secretary said: “Patients are bearing the brunt of the impact of continuous strikes across the NHS and further action by the BMA will cause more appointments and procedures to be postponed.

“My door is always open to discuss how to improve doctors’ working lives but this pay award is final so I urge the BMA to end its strikes immediately.”

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