Published on: 27 September 2023

NHS leaders are reminding people to only use A&E for life-threatening emergencies as upcoming industrial action is expected to impact NHS services. 

South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust is urging the public to only use them if there is a serious risk to life, limb of sight. This is in the lead up to the next round of strikes by the British Medical Association (BMA).

The latest action will see Consultants and junior doctors walk out for 72 hours starting at 7am on Monday 2nd October. 

The British Dental Association (BDA) has also said its members will strike during the same period.

The Trust has emergency A&E departments at Sunderland Royal Hospital, South Tyneside District Hospital and Sunderland Eye Infirmary. It is warning patients that they will face disruption and long waits during the strike and in the days following the action. 

Trust leaders have also joined those across the North East in urging people to only call 999 or attend an emergency department if they have life-threatening conditions or injuries.

Dr Shaz Wahid, the Trust’s Executive Medical Director, said:

"Once more, we are asking people to play their part in helping us deal with pressure on our services.

"We are here and have planned carefully to make sure we can safely care for our patients. But we do need the help of the public. Please only use 999 and A&E in a genuine medical emergency and think about where is the right place for you to seek help.

"There will be some disruption to other services. This means, unfortunately, that we have had to rearrange some appointments. We will be contacting all patients who are affected by the strike action. If you don’t hear from us, please still attend your appointment as usual.

"GP surgeries will still be open during this day of action and our pharmacists are always very good sources of advice and treatment."

The public is reminded that there will be a number of services available during the strikes if they have urgent health needs.

These include:

  • 111 Online which is available 24-hours a day and can help you to the right place for care.
  • Self-care advice is also available online from the NHS at
  • Parents, carers, and young people can also use the Healthier Together app or website which provides NHS healthcare advice and top tips on a range of child-related illnesses along with information on local services.
  • 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.

Patients who have an urgent eye problem and need to attend the Emergency Eye Department at Sunderland Eye Infirmary should ring a 24/7 number.

This is 0191 569 9952 and should be called before arriving at the hospital.

This allows the team to assess a patient the department can plan treatment if they do need to be seen in person.