Public warned to expect significant disruption ahead of strikes by junior doctors and hospital consultants.

Rowan Pritchard-Jones - Medical Director
Rowan Pritchard-Jones - Medical Director

Health leaders are urging members of the public to use NHS 111 Online for all non-emergency healthcare needs during a prolonged period of strike action involving junior doctors and hospital consultants.

Unions have announced a five-day, 120-hour, walkout of junior doctors from 7am on Thursday, July 13th until 7am on Tuesday, July 18th.

This action will be quickly followed by a 48-hour strike by hospital consultants from 7am on Thursday, July 20th, to 7am on Saturday, July 22nd.

NHS Trusts across Cheshire and Merseyside are set to be severely impacted by these strikes, the scale of which has not been seen before. The public are being advised that significant service disruption is highly likely.

NHS Cheshire and Merseyside Medical Director Prof Rowan Pritchard Jones recommends using NHS 111 Online for non-emergency healthcare needs.

The online service works the same as over the phone and is already popular with people who want quick advice about the best options for getting the care they need. These can include a call back from a trained clinician or nurse, an appointment in A&E or important advice.

Prof Pritchard Jones said: “The NHS has tried and tested plans in place to mitigate risks to patient safety and manage the disruption caused by industrial action, but these unprecedented strikes will lead to significant service disruption.

“Urgent and emergency care services will be open and in the event of a life or limb-threatening emergency you should always call 999.

“If, however, it’s not an emergency, please use NHS 111 Online to ensure you are signposted to the right service first time.”

Almost half of all hospital doctors in the country are junior doctors - you will see junior doctors working in almost every part of a busy hospital.

The NHS will continue to deliver planned care where possible, especially for patients in greatest clinical need, and we would urge the public to attend any planned appointments unless contacted directly by the NHS to reschedule.

Hospital consultants are the NHS’s most senior clinicians, who’s roles cannot be covered by other staff.

Whilst strike action by hospital consultants will still deliver Christmas Day levels of care – meaning emergency departments will still be open and staffed with consultants – disruption and longer waits should be expected.

We are now entering the eighth month of industrial action across the NHS and staff continue to work hard to provide patients with the best possible care under the circumstances.

The public are being urged to use NHS 111 online for non-emergency healthcare needs.

Local NHS services will be using their websites and social media channels to provide up to date information to the public about local service disruption – so please check before you travel.

NHS 111 Online can tell you:

  • Where to get help for your symptoms

  • How to find general health information and advice

  • Where to get an emergency supply of your prescribed medicine

  • How to get a repeat prescription

  • How to get an emergency dental appointment

More information about when to call 999 and when to go to A&E is available via the national NHS website.