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Leaders urge responsible use of services ahead of latest strikes

Junior doctors industrial action graphic, displaying the dates of industrial action ffrom 7am on 11 August to 7am 15 August 2023

Health leaders urge the public to use services responsibly ahead of latest strike action as new data reveals impact of industrial action

With a further 96 hours of continuous industrial action starting tomorrow (Friday) - where 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 from 7am tomorrow (11th August) until 7am on Tuesday (15th August) – 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.

Dr Bill Jewsbury, Medical Director at the Royal Surrey NHS Foundation Trust explains

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.

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.


With industrial action by junior doctors starting tomorrow we are 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. 

Analysing data from the first periods of industrial action back in December 2022 through to the last period of action we saw in July, the analysis found:

  • 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 includes planned procedures and operations) have been rescheduled on days of industrial action across Surrey Heartlands due to the local impact

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.


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