Published on: 14 September 2023
NHS leaders at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust are appealing for help from the public as local hospitals prepare for co-ordinated industrial action from both junior doctors and consultants.
The British Medical Association (BMA) has announced strikes by its members.
On Tuesday, September 19, the union has said consultants will deliver Christmas Day levels of staffing, while junior doctors will work as usual.
The next day, on Wednesday, September 20, it has said both junior doctors and consultants will deliver that same level of staffing. It has added while emergency care will be offered, no elective – or planned – care is to take place.
On Thursday and Friday, September 21 and 22, the BMA has said its junior doctors will stage a full walkout. Consultants will return to work as usual.
Looking ahead to next month, the union has said both its consultants and junior doctors intend to stage a pay rally from Monday, October 2 to Wednesday, October 4. This will see Christmas Day staffing levels only.
Meanwhile, as next week approaches, the Trust has said its services will come under increased pressure.
People should only attend its Emergency Departments if they have a life-threatening condition or injury. They are also only being asked to call 999 for an ambulance if their life is at risk or they have sustained a serious injury.
Across the region, it is likely services will be disrupted. Patients who do attend hospital over the course of the BMA industrial action will face long waits to be seen and in the days after the strikes.
NHS organisations in North East have made plans to make sure emergency and urgent care across its hospitals remain open. However, patients are being asked to play their part in helping teams prioritise help for those most in need.
The NHS 111 service available online via 111.nhs.uk and by phone is available around-the-clock for advice. It can also help people seek care from the right place.
The site also has a checker which can be used to assess symptoms. The service will re-direct to a health professional if they need to be seen in person.
Patients with appointments for the Trust’s services are asked to attend these as planned, unless they are told otherwise.
Dr Shaz Wahid, the Trust’s Executive Medical Director, said:
"People should know we have plans in place which will ensure we have safe levels of care for patients who do need urgent help.
"But we need to make sure our emergency departments can help those most in need. Every one of us can all play a part in making sure their teams can look after those who are most seriously unwell or hurt.
"This latest strike action will cause some disruption for our planned services, but this does mean some appointments will need to be rearranged. Those patients will hear from us, so unless you hear otherwise, please come in as expected.
"GP surgeries will remain open during these days of action and our pharmacists are very good source of advice and treatments.
"The 111 service is also on hand around the clock and can help direct you to the right place for care."
A self-care advice is also available online from the NHS at www.nhs.uk.
Anyone needing urgent mental health support should continue to seek it via their local Crisis Team.
People can put their postcode into this website to find their local crisis line.