Patients in the Black Country are being reminded that the NHS will still be available for urgent and emergency care during the latest round of industrial action but are being asked to use services wisely.
Junior doctors are expected to go on strike from 7am on Friday 11 August to 7am Tuesday 15 August which will affect local services. Hospital consultants will also be taking strike action for 48 hours from 7am on Thursday 24 August until 7am on Saturday 26 August, just ahead of the August Bank Holiday weekend.
All health and care partners in the Black Country are working together to prepare for the industrial action and are asking the public for their support.
Emergency care will be prioritised, and people are being reminded that 999 and emergency departments are still the right services if it is a life-saving emergency. However, for anything that isn’t life-threatening, people are being urged to use 111 online as the first port of call for health needs. People can also call 111 for help, advice, and signposting to the most appropriate service.
Pharmacies, GP appointments, walk-in centres, minor injury units and urgent treatment centres will continue to be available during the industrial action and can help people with a range of injuries and illnesses.
People with hospital appointments should continue to come forward for the care they need and do not need to call to check if appointments are going ahead. If appointments do need to be rearranged due to strike action, patients will be contacted directly.
Dr Ananta Dave, Chief Medical Officer for the NHS Black Country Integrated Care Board, said: “The NHS continues to face high demand and staff are working hard to provide patients with the best possible care during what is already a busy period of the summer in the NHS.
“During the upcoming industrial action, it is really important that patients who need urgent medical care continue to come forward as normal, especially in emergency and life-threatening cases. However, if it is non-life threatening, please think about which is the most appropriate service for your needs.
“If you need medical help or advice, you should contact NHS 111 in the first instance, and they will direct you to the most appropriate service for advice or treatment. This could include your local pharmacy, GP or a local urgent treatment centre.
“We’d like to thank people for their patience and their ongoing support by using NHS services appropriately.”
Dr Jonathan Odum, Group Chief Medical Officer for The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust and Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “Ahead of upcoming strike action, we are asking patients to please use NHS services wisely and to only use A&E departments and 999 for life-threatening emergencies to ensure care is available to patients who need it most.
“We do expect there to be an impact on some appointments and clinics but ask patients to continue to attend planned appointments unless you hear directly from the NHS to make new arrangements.
“We thank the public for their support, and we are also incredibly grateful to all of the health and care staff across the Black Country who are working tirelessly to ensure patients get the right treatment, as quickly as possible, in the right place.”
NHS 111 can help if you have an urgent medical problem and you’re not sure what to do. You can contact the service online 111.nhs.uk or by calling 111, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Pharmacists can also offer expert advice on lots of common conditions such as coughs, colds, aches, and pains. To find your local pharmacy, visit the NHS website here.
People should only call 999 if it is a medical emergency.