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Royal Surrey CEO Says ‘Only Use A&E In Life-threatening Emergencies’ During Strikes

Published on: 19 Sep, 2023
Updated on: 19 Sep, 2023

The Royal Surrey County Hospital

Surrey’s National Health Service is warning of significant disruption caused by the first ever joint consultant and junior doctors strike which started today (September 19).

It is set to continue for four days and, for the first time ever, consultants and junior doctors will be striking on the same day, which is expected to lead to significant disruption for local health services, resulting in hundreds of planned procedures and appointments across Surrey being rescheduled.

Today and tomorrow (September 19-20) consultants who are members of the British Medical Association (BMA) will strike for 48 hours. Then, from Wednesday, junior doctors who are part of the BMA will also stage a 72-hour strike, alongside junior doctors who are part of the Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association (HCSA) – leading to the first-ever double-strike action involving both consultants and junior doctors on Wednesday, September 20.

Consultants are set to only provide “Christmas Day cover”, meaning they will only provide an “emergency care” level of service, and with both strikes taking place together, significant disruption is expected across local health services, with many non-urgent procedures and outpatient appointments being rescheduled as a result.

Louise Stead, Chief Executive of Royal Surrey NHS Foundation Trust said because of the joint action: “… it’s important that people use our services wisely as services will be affected. However, we would like to thank those who have decided not to strike, or who have stepped in to ensure that we continue to offer a very safe service.

“We have however, unfortunately, had to reschedule some appointments over this period and would like to apologise to anyone who has been affected by this. If you have an appointment and haven’t been informed that it has been postponed, please attend as normal.

“Members of our community can support us during this period by only using our Emergency Department (A&E) in life-threatening emergencies, and to contact NHS 111 online for advice for anything that is less urgent.”

Dr Charlotte Canniff

Dr Charlotte Canniff, Joint Chief Medical Officer at Surrey Heartlands Health and Care Partnership said: “With consultants and junior doctors set to strike together for the first time, we expect to see a significant impact on local health services due to reduced staffing levels, where frontline teams will need to prioritise critical and life-saving care.

“As a health and care system we fully support all our workforce – whether they choose to take part in planned industrial action or not – and, as a system, we will continue to work together to minimise any disruption.

“Unfortunately, some appointments and procedures will need to be rescheduled and waiting times are likely to be longer than usual as our frontline teams make sure people who are critically ill get the care they need as quickly as possible.”

The local NHS is urging residents to continue to use services responsibly and appropriately:

  • If it’s not a medical emergency people should use NHS 111 online
    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.
    Pharmacies can also help with minor health issues.
  • 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 it’s not an emergency, people should
    contact NHS 111 and use local Minor Injury Units, Urgent Treatment
    and walk-in centres.
  • 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.

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