Local health leaders in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland are urging patients in the community to plan so they know what to do if they or those they are caring for need medical care during the course of the upcoming industrial action from the British Medical Association (BMA) by junior doctors.
The British Medical Association (BMA) have announced their intentions to take industrial action as follows:
- Full withdrawal of labour by junior doctors – 8AM to 5PM on Tuesday 26 and Wednesday 27 April.
Health leaders from Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland have put robust plans that protect the safety, welfare and service provided to patients across the health system. All services in primary and community care will continue to operate as normal, with enhanced capacity in some cases, and we urge patients to use services in the community wherever possible.
- NHS Choices – has created a new dedicated page for patient information about the upcoming action. From Monday 25 April www.nhs.uk/strike will have a search facility linking patients to details of additional/extended services being provided in their own area.
- Community Pharmacy – Pharmacies are unaffected by the strike and patients should visit their pharmacy for advice on minor illnesses and ailments as well as for over the counter medicinces.
- General Practice – GP practices will be open as usual, and patients are urged to contact their GP on the strike days if they need non-emergency medical assistance. GPs across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland have cancelled training days and non-essential practice meetings in order to provide appointments to meet the potential rise in demand, and all GPs sit on CCG boards and other committees have collectively agreed not to attend meetings so that they are available in practice and for wider clinical work if required.
For patients registered with a practice in Leicester City, the Healthcare Hubs will be open, offering walk in GP appointments from 6:30pm until 10pm. In West Leicestershire there will be additional resource available within the Acute Visiting Service so that GPs can refer additional patients who need an urgent home visit. In East Leicestershire and Rutland there will be additional staffing at the Oadby Urgent Care Centre.
- NHS 111 – Patients should call 111 is they are unsure of how to access care, what is open or what is affected by the industrial action. 111 will have the latest information on what services are available, and will be able to direct patients to the local service which can help them best. Patients speak to a highly trained call advisor who will assess their condition and, if necessary transfer them to a clinician for a second opinion. There will be additional staff, including clinical staff, available to cope with a rise in demand.
- Urgent Care Centres – Urgent Care Centres across the area are open as usual throughout the industrial action, and Loughborough Urgent Care Centre and Oadby Urgent Care Centre will both be adding additional clinical staff to meet any rise in demand. Patients should visit their local urgent care centre if they have an urgent, but non-life threatening medical need. People are asked to avoid the Emergency Department at Leicester Royal Infirmary if possible, unless it is a serious or life-threatening emergency.
Patients in need of urgent and emergency care will continue to receive the treatment they need, when they need it. Those in less urgent need of care, particularly those who feel they need to attend A&E or the Leicester Royal infirmary site, may experience longer waiting times than normal. In all cases priority will be given to those patients with the most pressing health needs.
Nick Willmott, a GP in Hinckley and clinical lead at West Leicestershire Clinical Commissioning Group said: “Preparations have been made across community healthcare services in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland to help ensure that the safety, welfare and services we provide for patients are protected while industrial action is taking place.
“If you have an urgent, but not life threatening medical need, attend your local urgent care centre, as they will be able to treat many injuries and ailments. If you’re not sure what service you need then NHS 111 will be able to help you, so call them for advice. Urgent Care Centres in Leicestershire and Rutland, including Loughborough Urgent Care Centre and Oadby Urgent Care Centre are unaffected by the strike and are adding additional staff to meet the demand so we urge people to make full use of them if they need immediate medical care.
“If you are feeling unwell please do not wait, take advice from your GP or pharmacist, or contact NHS111. Don’t wait until your condition is worse and becomes an emergency.
“NHS 111 is also unaffected by the strike, so it’s important for people to call 111 if they are unsure of the best way for them to access care, there will be additional call handlers available to meet the demand.
“If you are frail or have a long-term condition, or care for someone who does, we are asking you to take steps to know what to do if you or your loved one needs medical care during the course of this industrial action. GPs have put plans in place to ensure that appointments are not affected, so we ask people to attend their appointments as normal unless you have been told otherwise by your practice.
“Also, if you have regular medication – please make sure you have collected your prescription from the GP and have been to the pharmacist to collect it, and have it to hand.”