Health leaders across Suffolk and north east Essex are urging patients to avoid emergency departments at the three main hospital sites unless necessary as junior doctors continue their industrial action.
According to figures from NHS England East of England region, there were over 7,500 attendances yesterday (Monday 13 March).
Members of the British Medical Association (BMA) and the Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association (HCSA) are striking as part of their ongoing dispute with the government over pay and conditions.
Leaders say this is significantly reducing clinical capacity across the system.
Hospitals across Suffolk and north east Essex are prioritising emergency cover but are calling on people to avoid emergency departments unless necessary.
Nick Hulme, Chief Executive of East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust urged patients to use NHS services wisely. He said: “It is important that in emergency and life-threatening cases – when someone is seriously ill or their life is at risk – patients continue to come forward as normal.
“Our accident and emergency departments are open throughout the strike period.
“If it is non-life threatening, please think about which is the most appropriate service for your needs.
“There are a range of options to help you, such as your local pharmacy, 111 online or your GP.
“Please help us to help you by keeping our emergency departments for those who really need them.”
Dr Paul Molyneux, Medical Director at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are having to assess which of our patients should be prioritised to attend the hospital for their operations. This is based on clinical need and urgency.
“Sadly for most people, we are having to postpone appointments and procedures to redeploy our consultant workforce to our emergency departments and other critical services in order to ensure we have adequate cover in these core services at this time.”