Clinicians across Suffolk and north east Essex are thanking local people for heeding their previous advice about using the right services during times of industrial action.
They say next week’s industrial action – which will see junior doctors and consultants striking simultaneously for a while – is likely to be particularly challenging.
The British Medical Association (BMA) said consultants will strike in the long-running row with the Government over pay on September 19 and 20 with ‘Christmas Day’ levels of cover.
Junior doctors will also walk out on September 20 with similar cover, followed by strikes on September 21 and 22.
Both consultants and junior doctors will strike again on October 2, 3 and 4, all with ‘Christmas Day’ cover.
Dr Ruth Bushaway, Deputy Medical Director at the NHS Suffolk and North East Essex Integrated Care Board, said: “I am not only grateful to local people for taking notice of our messages and using services wisely, but I am also proud of all staff who have either covered for rotas as well as those who decided to exercise their right to strike.
“Participating in strike action is no easy decision to make and I respect and understand their concerns.”
Dr Bushaway added: “It is vital people choose services appropriately during industrial action and take simple steps to help ensure care is available to patients who need it most.
“This includes using 111 online as the first port of call for health needs, and only using 999 if it is a life-threatening emergency.
“If your local hospital has not contacted you, please attend your appointment as planned – please don’t contact your GP for this purpose.
“If your appointment needs to be rescheduled due to strike action, the hospital will be in touch.
“GP practices will continue to be open during the junior doctor’s strike.
“Please continue to attend your GP and dental appointments unless you are contacted and told otherwise.”
If you need medical help or advice, or you are unsure about whether you should go to hospital, go to NHS 111 online unless it is a life-threatening emergency when you should still call 999.
For more information on when to call 999 and when to go to A&E, you can visit the NHS UK website.
The NHS is also asking the public to play their part by taking simple steps during industrial action to look after themselves, loved ones and checking in on vulnerable family members and neighbours.
Dr Bushaway said: “If you are eligible for your COVID-19 autumn booster or flu vaccination, please do get this.
“Not only will you protect yourself against these nasty viruses, but you will also be helping us during these challenging periods.”
More advice and information about staying well, please visit www.sneewellbeing.org.uk