Consultants and junior doctors will take part in joint strike action this week for the first time in history, with NHS leaders warning of expected disruption to patient care.
Strikes this week begin on Tuesday (19 September) with consultants taking to the picket line, to be joined by junior doctors on Wednesday (20 September).
From 7am on Wednesday, both junior doctors and consultants will deliver ‘Christmas day levels of staffing only’, meaning that emergency care will be provided.
Both professions will strike again on 2 October through to 4 October.
This marks the 10th month of industrial action across the NHS, which has resulted in 885,000 inpatient and outpatient appointments rescheduled.
Industrial action by consultants last month saw around 6,000 staff off per day.
The NHS is urging the public to use health services as they ‘usually would’.
NHS national medical director professor Sir Stephen Powis said: ‘The NHS has simply never seen this kind of industrial action in its history. This week’s first ever joint action means almost all planned care will come to a stop, and hundreds of thousands of appointments will be postponed, which is incredibly difficult for patients and their families, and poses an enormous challenge for colleagues across the NHS.
‘We’re very grateful to the public for using the NHS wisely during this period when we will be prioritising emergency care. In a life-threatening situation, use 999 and A&E as normal, but for everything else, use 111 online or use services in the community which are largely unaffected, like GPs and pharmacies. Patients who have an appointment and who haven’t been contacted should attend as normal.’