Health and care partners in Sussex are preparing for a difficult few days ahead as hospital consultant doctors plan to take industrial action from Thursday of this week.
The British Medical Association (BMA) has confirmed that hospital consultant doctors in Sussex will be taking 48-hour industrial action from 7am on Thursday 24 August to 7am on Saturday 26 August.
The consultant cover during these 48 hours will be based on Christmas Day levels of cover, meaning emergency care will still be provided.
However, NHS leaders are warning the impact of these strikes will be very challenging for local services, especially with the school summer holidays underway, when staffing rotas are traditionally already lower, and leading into the late summer bank holiday weekend.
This is because consultant doctors not only see patients but are responsible for supervising junior doctors and other staff. Therefore, when consultants take strike action, they will stop delivering care directly – they will also stop providing supervision of the work of junior staff. Without supervision it may not be possible for some care delivered by junior doctors or other staff to take place safely.
That’s why, people are being urged to continue to support the NHS during the consultant doctors’ strike by using the right health service to meet their needs, and help to ensure emergency care is available for those in most need. Local people and visitors to Sussex are being asked to take the following actions:
- Choose the most appropriate NHS service for needs and only use 999 and Emergency Departments for serious or life-threatening emergencies.
- For anything that isn’t a life-saving emergency, use an alternative NHS service and to use NHS 111 first either online or by phone.
- Know it may take longer than expected to be seen and treated.
- Collect family and friends from hospital as soon as they are ready to be discharged.
- To stay away from hospitals if showing the symptoms of flu or COVID-19 (or have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19), unless it is an emergency.
Planned appointments and clinics are likely to be affected, however, people should continue to attend their appointments unless they are contacted directly by the NHS. Patients do not need to contact their NHS service or team in advance, the team will contact patients directly if an appointment needs to be rescheduled.
Dr Dinesh Sinha, Chief Medical Officer at NHS Sussex, said: “The NHS in Sussex is grateful to people for their support during the several periods of industrial action seen so far this year, and I want to acknowledge the positive impact the public had over these strikes by choosing the most appropriate service if they needed NHS help and support.
“This week we will continue to prioritise emergency care, but we really need the public’s support again to be able to provide high quality NHS care to our local communities, patients, families, and carers.”
Pharmacies, walk-in centres, minor injury units and urgent treatment centres will continue to be available. These are open during the industrial action and can help people with a range of injuries and illnesses. See the full list of open services.